Matt James steered his gray 2008 Kia Sorento across the Kentucky border into West Virginia with a smile on his face. He was glad to be getting closer to his home in Huntington. He had only been gone a week, but it was a long week.
The smoke and the smog of the oil refinery in Ashland, Kentucky was his last view before entering the green mountains of West Virginia. Spring was arriving and Mother Nature was painting the hills of Ceredo-Kenova with a shade of beautiful green that displayed that nature preferred West Virginia to the toxic black clouds that was Kentucky’s last gasp before giving way to the Mountain Mama that John Denver sang about in his classic song “Take Me Home Country Roads.”
It was great to be back home in the town where he was born. Huntington had the advantages of being both a small city and a country town. The city offered shopping centers and malls, movies, bars, a college and still had the simplistic advantages of the country such as lakes for fishing, woods for hunting, and long, winding roads laced with the artistic magic of Mother Nature’s paint brush. Being on the road all of the time would not be so bad if he were visiting exciting places or even ordinary cities. Matt’s job selling Nunn-Better Dog Food kept him in the country most of the time. He had been in Kentucky for a week, but instead of cities like Louisville or Lexington, he was in Whitesburg, Hazard, and Harlan. There was not much to do at night in those towns unless you wanted to score some Oxies or Meth. The towns were pretty and mountainous like Huntington, but they did not offer any of Huntington’s excitement and Kentucky to him was just a generic version of West Virginia.
He dialed his wife Brenda to let her know he was just about home. She did not answer but that was not unusual for her. He tried to call their only daughter, Britney, but she did not answer either. But then again, she was eighteen and was either out running the roads or on the other line. Something was always going on in Britney’s world.
Matt would love to be eighteen again himself. He had fond memories of growing up in Huntington, West Virginia. In those days, he was a young skinny teenager with a fastball that clocked in close to ninety miles an hour. Unfortunately, he did not have a lot of control over that heater, and spent most of the time terrorizing the opposing team. Several times a game a batter would be down in the dirt. “Wild Thing” James also sent more than one batter to the hospital.
Later, as a twenty-something college kid, Matt would give a different meaning to “Wild Thing.” His rifle of a left arm gave out on him in his senior year in high school so he did not play for Marshall’s Thundering Herd. But, he did drink a lot of beer in the six years it took him to get a Bachelor’s Degree in Marketing.
The Wild Thing was a staple in the bar scene in the eighties. It was not unusual to see the then tall, gangly looking youth staggering through Double Dribble or The Varsity in pursuit of a young co-ed. “Fox hunting” or “cheese tasting” were goofy terms he used to describe his favorite night-time activities.
Huntington was Matt’s hometown and unlike many of his high school classmates, he never had the urge to leave. He loved his hometown and took great pride in it. He thought Huntington accomplished a lot for a town of its size.
Matt was on the Herd’s tail attending every home game when Marshall University won the NCAA Division 1 –AA Championship in 1996. He watched as Marshall alumni Randy Moss and Chad Pennington went from local heroes to national stars.
Matt even followed Billy Ray Cyrus’s rise from the Ragtime Lounge in Huntington to international stardom. In the late eighties, Matt worked at Big Bear grocery on First Street in Huntington. After working up a thirst, he would later seek to quench it down the street at The Ragtime. A young Billy Ray, with a potato rumored to be wedged in his crotch, packed the tiny bar with dozens of drunken women. As Matt knew, even the Achy Breaky Kid, could not handle all of those women. So after the Mullet Boy worked them into a frenzy, The Wild Thing and his buddies would be there to make sure their night’s entertainment did not end when Billy Ray left the stage.
Now, twenty years later, The Wild Thing was more like The Boring Thing as he has not tasted a beer in nearly five years. In fact, maybe The Working Thing was a more accurate name. Matt worked well over fifty hours a week pushing big bags of dog food and then did his paperwork and computer work in the evening. He managed to cram in another sixteen hours a week on weekends working at the local Sav-a –Lot grocery store.
His wife Brenda told everyone he was a workaholic. She said he was not happy unless he was working. That was not exactly true. Although he made nearly fifty thousand a year selling Nunn-Better, his second job was crucial in keeping him one step ahead of the repo man.
Times are very tough for almost everyone in West Virginia. But, a car accident left Brenda James in great pain. In trying to escape the pain, Brenda became trapped by painkillers, more precisely – oxycotins. Even though Brenda had a doctor and insurance, the insurance did not cover her visits or medication. Matt forked out two hundred dollars a month for her to drive an hour to Portsmouth, Ohio. The doctor there was an actual ‘pill mill’ in many citizen’s opinions.
A pill mill was a doctor or clinic who was a ‘legal drug dealer.’ The clients would visit the doctor just because they knew they would get a prescription for painkillers. The doctor would do a very brief examination but then give the script to the patient. The doctor got paid and the patient got their fix. Such operations were common in Southern Ohio. Some had been closed down but even the ones that were still opened had been raided at one time. The clinic Brenda frequented had been raided in 2010. The computers and records were confiscated but the office reopened a week later. The DEA has of yet to press charges.
Brenda would visit the doctor who would do a quick check up on her back. He then would write out a prescription for 112 15 milligram oxies and 28 xanex’s and send her on her way. The local pharmacies would not fill her prescriptions. When they did fill them before the public outcry that hounded the pain clinics after Scioto County in Ohio became known as one of the biggest drug zones in that part of the country, the total of the two scripts at a Wal-Mart would be around a hundred dollars. But, as the media printed more stories about the tri-state area’s bout with drug abuse, filling the prescription meant visiting 12-14 drug stores and traveling a few hours until you found the ‘lucky’ store. Then, that store would not fill the script the following month.
Finally, a local store near Charleston, West Virginia started regularly filling the prescriptions but the total cost was $246 dollars. So including the doctor and pills, the total cost a month was $446 and the pharmacy would not take insurance either. Then, Brenda would gobble down her medicine two weeks faster than she was supposed to and cry until Matt gave her the money to buy them off of the black street for a dollar a milligram. The ‘illegal’ pills usually cost another three to five hundred dollars a month. Since Brenda’s back left her unable to work, Matt had to provide the second income in the family.
Matt was turning off of I-64 onto the West Huntington exit when his cell phone began ringing. Turning down the Tom Petty Greatest Hits CD on his car stereo, he glanced down and noticed it was his daughter, Britney.
“Hello Baby!” The proud father blurted out excitedly.
Hey Daddy, did “Yep, just a few miles from home. Do you know if your mom fixed anything for supper or should I bring something home? I called and she didn’t answer.”
“Daddy, are you forgetting she went to the doctor Wednesday?”
“Oh, okay, I get it. Stonesy’s there, huh?” Matt called Brenda Stonesy when she took too many pills. She would remain in a state of both being awake and asleep at the same time for days at a time.
“Yep, Stonesy showed up last night.”
“All right. Well, have you eaten?”
“Don’t worry about me, I’m at Ashley’s and I’m not sure what time I’ll be home, so I’ll just grab something.”
“Okay, guess it’s the drive-thru for me. Hopefully, I’ll see you later tonight. I haven’t seen you in a week, I miss you.”
“I miss you too, Dad. I love you.”
“I love you too, Babers, be careful.” He had called his daughter “Babers’ since she was a baby and still referred to her as Babers from time to time. Matt felt like most fathers, it didn’t matter how big she may get, she will always be his little girl. She may be fifty someday but he will still be calling her Babers on her fiftieth birthday.
As he pulled up to Wendy’s drive-thru window he tried to call Brenda again. Once again, the phone rang five times before going to her voice mail. Matt bought himself a couple Junior Bacon Cheeseburgers and Brenda’s favorite Home-style Chicken sandwich. He then went across the street to the Dairy Queen to buy Brenda’s favorite dessert – a French Vanilla Moo-Latte.
It was just starting to get dark as the Sorento pulled into the driveway of their small but comfortable house on Piedmont Road. He did not see any lights on in the house. The door was unlocked and Matt walked through the front door.
As soon as he walked in, he could hear Wheel of Fortune on their television set. He could see Brenda’s long brown hair flowing over the side of her brown recliner. It was not unusual to see ‘Stonesy’ dangling over the side of the chair passed out with a cigarette in her mouth. In fact, all of the furniture in the house was decorated with matching cigarette burns.
“Brendy?” He called out with the Moo-Latte in his hand. “Stonesy, is that you? I got somethin’ for ya!” He walked around the recliner. Something was wrong, her lips were blue.
Looking like someone who has obviously been through this before, the middle-aged dog food salesman picked up the frail housewife and laid her gently on the floor. Clearing her mouth out, he titled her head back. Pinching her nose he blew two breaths into her mouth. He put the heel of his hand over her chest and cupped his other hand on top. He quickly pressed thirty times before giving her two more breaths. He followed this routine five times before she started breathing. Exhausted, he fell down beside her and dialed 911.
John Ross pulled his 2009 baby blue Dodge Ram pickup into the parking lot of AJ’s Bar. He could tell the bar was hopping tonight as he had to park in the back of the lot. As he walked toward the club he noticed a young skinny man with long dirty looking hair tied into a pony tail standing next to an old Chevy Cavalier. The kid looked like a hippie refugee from the sixties. “Hippie!” he could hear South Park’s Cartman scream in his head.
Hippie pulled a pill bottle from the back pocket of his grungy jeans and poured a few pills into his hand. John watched him as he passed the contents through the car window.
“Do you have to be obvious that you are doing a drug deal? I mean can you at least go around a corner or something?” Ross shouted as he shook his head, half laughing.
“Fuck you! Mind your own business, Barney Rubble!” Hippie shouted back noticing how much the fortyish Ross resembled Fred Flintstone’s cartoon buddy. Hippie thought a second and walked toward Ross. “You wanna make something of it?”
The thought of this half-baked hobo looking punk challenging him went right through John Ross. Reaching into his pocket, the stocky cop whipped out a badge. Shoving the badge up into the approaching idiot’s face, he grimaced. “You know what? I came out on my night off to drink a few beers… But on second thought, I think I left something down at the station that I need to pick up. Since you obviously don’t have anything to do except offend my honor by dealing drugs in the parking lot of my favorite bar, let’s say we go downtown together.”
“Whoa! Whoa! I’m sorry, Dude. I didn’t know you were a cop.”
“They’ll like you up at West Regional. I can tell by the smell of the pot smoke clinging to you, that you are going to be hungry soon. I can hook you up with a nice, disgusting breakfast in the morning.”
“Dude, I’m sorry, Man. It’s cool, Man. It’s all good.”
“Is it now, Man?” The policeman asked sarcastically. “I don’t think it is now. I’m kinda pissed off. First, you are out here in plain sight pushing pills. You don’t even give the police department the respect of fearing us by dealing somewhere where you can’t be seen.”
“Dude, Man, it won’t happen again.”
“Then, you have the nerve to act like you are going to kick my ass!” The smaller cop jerked his hand up like he was going to punch the young stoner.
Hippie flinched but didn’t try to protect himself. “Dude, it ain’t like that!”
“Well, you know what, you slimy piece of crap? You are very lucky I don’t feel like doin’ any paperwork right now. I’m thirsty as hell and I suggest you get your shaggy ass out of here before I decide to get a six to go and drag your ass down to the station.”
“Dude, I mean… just say the word and I’m outta here. Please?”
“Am I wearing a uniform? Show me some respect!”
“Please, Sir?” The young man was ready to either cry or piss himself.
“Well, that’s more like it. Get your sorry ass out of here and if I ever see you dealing in a parking lot, I’m going to shove that pill bottle up into your ass so far that your long-dicked prison roommates won’t even be able to touch it when they bend you over.”
“Got it, Sir. I’m sorry, Man. You won’t see me again.”
Proud of himself, Officer John Ross of The Huntington Police Department headed toward the front door of the bar. “Barney Rubble?” He smirked to himself. “More like Barney Badass!”
In his younger days when he was more idealistic, Ross may have made a few phone calls or run the punk down to the station himself. Nowadays, he realized he was not going to change the world. Punks were always going to deal drugs in parking lots of bars and in bar bathrooms, for that matter. Tonight was his night off and he was going to keep it that way. Why spend his night off at the station doing paperwork when he could spend it at AJ’s drinking beer and chasing girls. He scared the punk for the fun of it. Actually, he was hoping the punk peed himself when John whipped out his buzz.
AJ’s Bar was ‘the bar that time forgot.’ Old time beer mirrors lined the walls. Many of these brands were not even served in Huntington now or even brewed any more. There were brands like Old German Beer, Ham’s, Goebel’s, Blatz’s, Olympia, and Drummond Brother’s. At the left side of the bar was a shuffleboard table. This table gave AJ’s its charm. Very few beer drinkers in Huntington over the age of thirty could say they have never walked through the doors of AJ’s and played shuffleboard. It was not the only shuffleboard in town, but it was the only shuffleboard table that did not get more use as a beer holder. Pucks shuffled up and down the board from morning until last call.
AJ’s Bar could have well have been called ‘Everyman’s Bar’. All walks of life entered the heavy wooden door. Lawyers, doctor’s, factory workers, college students, and the homeless all sipped, drank, or chugged from the ice cold bottles and Mason jars that came from behind the long varnished maple bar.
Perhaps Huntington’s oldest bar, AJ’s never had gone out of style over the years. Trendy clubs and neighborhood taverns open and close their doors within the city limits all of the time. AJ’s customers watched the first man walk on the moon, cried over the plane crash which killed Marshall University’s football team in 1970, celebrated Cincinnati Reds World Series sweep of the Oakland Athletics in 1990, rejoiced during Marshall’s perfect football season of 1996, and shared stunned tears on 9/11/2001. AJ’s was more than just a bar, it was home to many Huntington residents.
After ordering a bottle of Budweiser, Ross found himself a vacant place to stand along the wall of the crowded bar. His first instinct was to take a swig of his just purchased ice cold brew. Then, his next instinct was to check out the females in the bar.
John Ross really was more of a quantity man than a quality man. Sure, he liked a good solid steak every now and then but if he was hungry enough, cheeseburgers worked just fine. After all, he hunted women more for the sport than for a relationship. It was all catch and release to him. It was not like he was going to find a soul mate at AJ’s Bar.
John Ross did not discriminate when it came to females. Big, small, skinny, fat, teeth, no teeth – it was all the same to him. Hunting women was kind of like fishing to him. When guys told fishing stories the next day, they always lied about how big the fish they caught were. It was the opposite with women-hunting stories. Guys always lied about how small the women were the next day when they bragged about bagging a nice doe.
After all, beer was the great equalizer. If you drank enough beer you could walk through those doors at the end of the night with just about anything. Beer helps you fool yourself, and then your imagination can make up the lies that fool your buddies the next day. Except John Ross’s buddies knew. John Ross had been at this game for years. Everyone knew about John Ross’s habits.
John always believed that a cop has to have beer and women. His motto was, “Show me a cop that doesn’t drink or screw around and I’ll show you a cop that will eventually put a gun to his head and pull the trigger.”
Being a policeman was certainly a stressful task. Sure, Huntington, West Virginia was not exactly East St. Louis, but it had its moments. John Ross had seen things that he never thought he would see in his hometown. This was West By God Virginia, the perfect place to raise a family, a modern day Mayberry.
Huntington was his hometown and being a policeman here was the culmination of a lifelong dream. But Huntington was evolving away from being the nice All-American town he grew up in and was literally becoming Little Detroit. Well, it was not that bad yet, but give it another twenty years. It was not the hippie drug dealers in bar parking lots that led him to this conclusion. It was a night that changed him forever that gave him a glimpse into the future.
John Ross lost his innocence forever on May 25, 2005. It was a day that will forever live in infamy in the hearts of Huntington residents. It was Huntington’s Pearl Harbor.
Four teenagers were shot and killed on that night. An eighteen year-old boy and a seventeen year-old girl had been at the prom that evening. The male was dressed up in a black tuxedo. He was very distinguished looking and handsome. His parents were proud as they watched him drive away with a beautiful young girl that he had not known for very long.
The girl looked magnificent in a yellow prom dress. She had turned heads all evening. She was a very attractive girl to start with but her mother worked tirelessly all day to prepare her daughter for what everyone thought would be a night in her life she would never forget. It turned out to be her last night. As she and her date witnessed a shooting they were not supposed to see, one of the shooters turn their gun on them. Neighbors heard the girl beg for her life. When the police arrived, they found her blood soaked corsage.
Another boy was shot and killed as he was celebrating his eighteenth birthday with his friend and his friend’s prom date after the dance was over.
The oldest victim was nineteen years-old. It was rumored that he was the intended target. Apparently, drug dealers from Detroit were looking for him. He had either doubled-crossed them or was dealing on their territory. They shot him and then shot the witnesses.
The tragic murders ripped through Huntington. Reality had smacked Huntington in its face. Big city drug dealers had been in Huntington’s city limits for quite some time, but now Huntington had been jolted out of its state of denial. Monsters had murdered their babies. Huntington, West Virginia now realized that it was at war with big city drug dealers who came into their town to bully citizens and take their money. Huntington now realized that it had a drug culture.
Ask John Ross what is to blame for the drug culture that is being cultivated in Huntington. He will tell you that it is MTV’s fault. Ross feels that MTV made heroes out of criminal rappers. He thinks that MTV glorifies street thugs. Rappers and convicted felons like Lil’ Wayne have become role models. Young innocent West Virginian teenagers dream of either being Lil’ Wayne or having a boyfriend like him.
The rap videos glamorize the thug lifestyle. Ross believes that teenagers are brainwashed into idolizing common drug dealers. The kids then emulate their heroes by mimicking their lifestyle. “Geesh…” Ross thought. “John Wayne where are you now when we need heroes and real role models?”
Young West Virginia girls think Detroit drug dealers are cute. Ross often thought these must be the same people who think it is cool to make pets out of dangerous venomous snakes, because in the cop’s mind, the snakes and the drug dealers are one and the same.
Like the scorpion in the story of the scorpion and the frog, Detroit drug dealers are hardened creatures that will not change. By instinct, they will eventually do what they are programmed to do. Like a pit bull that turns on its owners, the Detroit drug dealer will eventually maim and kill. That is what they do. That is who they are.
It is common for Huntington girls to befriend Detroit drug dealers. The Detroit drug dealers will set up an apartment in a girl’s name. They will let the girl live there for free. In exchange, the dealers will have everything in the girl’s name. No record of the convicted Detroit felon actually being in Huntington. The dealer will then run back and forth between Huntington and Detroit. The girl living in the apartment becomes a front for drug business.
The girls just do not get it that they are not playing with television characters. They just do not understand that they are playing with hardened killers. The murderers come down from Detroit and kill and then disappear back up into Detroit. No one may even be aware that they had left Michigan at all.
John Ross has been living with a lot of frustration and it was not just Detroit drug dealers. He was tired of risking his life for a paycheck and finding out that the judicial system really does not have his back. Every time he made an arrest, it felt like déjà vu. He was arresting a guy he had just cuffed a few years ago or last month or even last week.
Huntington had even more local habitual criminals running the streets than they had Detroit drug dealers. It was a vicious circle. The trash needed drugs so they would steal. Cops carry the trash off of the streets into the jail. But the criminal system keeps releasing the trash back onto the streets a short time later. The trash then gets caught breaking into an innocent hardworking taxpayer’s house and the circle keeps going around.
John Ross remembers the story of Charlie Runyon. Every Huntington police officer knows the story of Charlie Runyon. In the mid-nineties, Runyon had already managed to be arrested over ninety times. There was talk of convicting Runyon as a habitual offender. The talk quickly dissolved.
Runyon continued to star in the police blotter for several years. Then, on January 22, 2008, Charlie finally graduated to the front page. Charlie and a couple of associates were robbing a man at The Huntington Hotel. The victim pulled out a gun and killed one of Charlie’s co-robbers, Jason Patrick Finley. Charlie was charged with murder because a murder was committed in the process of a felony being committed. The charge was eventually plea bargained down but Runyon, now in his fifties, will be an old man by the time he is released. Unless his good luck with Huntington’s judicial system continues.
Maybe it was all of this stress that drove John Ross to drink. There certainly is more to this business than putting bad guys in cages. The cops were actually dog catchers. They merely rounded up strays that were being disobedient. They got reports of someone breaking the law and then they would go get the culprit and put it in a cage. Then, the lawyers, magistrates, and judges would get together and eventually set the animal back loose in the wild. Except the streets of Huntington had not actually been wild, until the system filled them up with all of the animals that they had caught and released.
Ross was tired of thinking about all of it. He was not going to let it ruin his weekend. And his weekend started now. He quickly chugged down his beer and was getting ready to head to the bar to get another one when he saw something that brought it all back.
Deandre Washington had just entered the tavern.
Matt James was standing in the St. Mary’s Hospital Emergency Room trying not to argue with Dr. Montgomery. “Doc, I’m just trying to say that a doctor prescribed Brenda the oxies and xanex.”
The doctor felt like he was talking to a brick wall. “Mr. James, what you have to understand is that oxycotin and xanex together is a lethal combination. Any doctor that prescribes those together should be in jail.” The doctor was tired of conversations like the one he was having now. The streets of Huntington were full of drug zombies who came staggering into the hospital out of desperation trying to ease the pangs of their addiction. The zombies knew they it was unlikely they would be granted a prescription but they were so desperate they would try anything. Secretly the doctor always figured that it would only be a matter of time before a drug zombie came in with a gun and robbed the hospital of pills or prescriptions.
“But he’s a doctor; he should know what is best for his patient. It’s not like she is buying these from a guy standing on the corner.” Matt pleaded. He felt like he had a good point. All his wife wanted was to be free of the pain that has stalked her since the accident. He did not understand how doctors could be so cruel. They had the power to ensure that Brenda never felt pain but the sadistic bastards just would not try to be empathetic.
“Why do you think it is so hard to get your out of state prescriptions filled?” The doctor felt like this was about the hundredth time he had this conversation with a patient this month. If the truth was known, he probably was not very far off in his estimation.
“Well, that’s another thing. Why don’t the authorities go after the doctor if something is wrong? If a person goes to a doctor, they should be able to get their scripts filled. If something is wrong with the prescription, then punish the doctor. We are supposed to believe what doctors tell us. We aren’t the ones that go to medical school, they are.” Matt’s sales skills were not working and he was beginning to rely on common sense but he knew he was losing the argument. In fact, he knew the guy had his mind made up and probably the best salesman or lawyer in the country was not going to help matters.
“Well, okay, Mr. James. But you have to understand. First off, nobody is calling the police, so don’t be so defensive. You have a real problem on your hands. This is the third time in the last three years that your wife has overdosed. So take a good look at your wife right now and tell me that the doctor is doing the right thing by prescribing her pain pills.”
“But, Doc, she has seen several doctors. Everyone agrees that the only thing that can be done to her is to try to control her pain.”
“Mr. James, snap out of your denial. I’m not saying that she doesn’t have pain but I am saying that treating back pain with drugs intended for cancer patients is like fishing for catfish with a stick of dynamite.”
“Well, Doc, I just don’t know which doctor to believe.”
“How about believing a doctor that everyone isn’t trying to put out of business? The Portsmouth clinic has been raided…what? Three times now? Listen, I’m only telling you this for the sake of your family. I see this stuff every day. We have dozens of people every day that come through those doors in search of painkillers. They say their tooth hurts or something like that, but the real problem is that they are suffering from withdrawal. I’m not going to stand here any longer and argue with you. Just think about this: If you wouldn’t have gotten home when you did you would be making funeral arrangements right now.”
Matt watched the doctor walk away and then walked back into Brenda’s room. Brenda was stirring a little as she was coming out of her drug induced coma. She would mumble something every now and then but with tubes down her throat it would be difficult for her to talk for a while.
Matt decided he needed to walk outside and get some air. What a welcome home! Not even a quick “great to have you back we missed you.” He did not have his family asking how hard his week was or how was his trip. It was the shock of seeing his wife turn blue, perform CPR, call 911, and then have a doctor call your wife a drug addict.
He walked outside in to the dark and dialed Britney’s number. The call went straight to her voice mail. He left the following message: “Baby, this is Dad. Everything is okay now… but your mother must have forgotten how many pills she took and took too many. She was out cold when I came in so I played it safe and took her to the hospital. She’s okay now but the doctor wants to keep her here a while just to watch her and make sure. Don’t worry, she’ll be okay. I’ll be here at the hospital until they release her. I love you, be careful.”
Matt understood what the doctor was trying to say. He knew that Brenda took too many painkillers from time to time but it was hard for anyone to understand how much pain she was in. Brenda was an excellent wife and mother. Brenda and Britney were very close. If something had happened to Brenda, he did not have any idea how he would have broken the news to their daughter.
Life had just become so complicated lately. Wasn’t life supposed to be easier the older you get? The economy, the pressure at work, raising a daughter in the changing world: The stress never seemed to end.
Matt James was lucky to have a daughter like Britney. She had been his Angel since the day she was born, his pride and joy. By all accounts, she had been a beautiful baby, always smiling with big, beautiful blue eyes like her mother had. She had coal black hair and resembled an American version of Dora The Explorer. No one was immune to her charm. Every store and every drive through window brought more praise on her beauty as she learned very young how to use her charm to win people over. Even when she was two years old everyone commented on how she could win any beauty contest anywhere.
Now as an eighteen year-old, she was just as beautiful. She was long legged and skinny and everyone agreed she should attend modeling school. She never gave her parents the fits that many of today’s kids gave their parents.
It was hard to believe his Babers was now eighteen years-old. His Babers was now lawfully an adult. She had graduated high school and was holding off on going to college until she really knew what career field she wanted to enter.
Matt’s phone started ringing. He looked down to see it was his Angel returning his call.
“Hello Baby. Are you okay?” Matt always cheered up when Britney called. It did not matter how bad his day was or how stressed out he was if Britney called his day instantly got better.
“Yes, Daddy. How is Mom doing?” Britney was concerned but she knew the cycle. It was all becoming routine. It was kind of like how a car needed to have it’s oil changed every now and then, in the way that Brenda would go into the hospital and detox. Once her system was cleaned out she would be okay for awhile until her body got clogged up with the drugs again.
“She’s doing okay, I guess she just took more medicine than she realized.”
“Yeah, she was pretty messed up when I saw her this afternoon.” Britney knew her father was in denial or maybe he just plain did not understand that his wife always took too many pills. He believed her when she said her pain was intolerable. In fact, Britney knew that her dad was part of the problem. He did it out of innocence but he was still an enabler. He took Brenda’s word about everything and whe she cried she was in tremendous pain, he would open up his wallet and give her more money.
“We’ll be at the hospital for a little while but I think they are going to let her come home tonight.” Matt said hoping they would release her tonight. If not, then he would end up sleeping in a hospital chair. After being in Eastern Kentucky hotels all week, he had been excited about the possibility of sleeping in his own bed. A hard hospital chair would be worse than the flea bitten beds he had tried to sleep in the last few nights. The only thing worse than trying to sleep on hospital waiting room furniture would be trying to sleep standing up handcuffed in a medieval dungeon.
“Well, that’s good. I won’t come by the hospital then. I’m chillin’ with Ashley and I’ll probably be home in a few hours. Let me know if anything else happens.” Britney was concerned about her mother but she was also relieved that her plans were not going to be interrupted.
“I sure will. I love you, Babers. Please be careful.” He was hoping he would get to see his daughter. He hardly ever got to see her much anymore and he thought about it all of the time.
Matt was just hoping to get his wife home and to put this little adventure behind him. He had paperwork to do tonight and he had to work Saturday and Sunday at his second job. He had left the Wendy’s food at home and his stomach was grumbling. He was ready to go home.
“I love you too, Daddy.” Now that she knew for sure she would not have to go by the hospital, she was ready to get stoned. Britney hung up the phone. “Pass the green, please!” She shouted toward Ashley. When Ashley handed the bowl of pot to Britney, she took a big hit. She inhaled deeply and after the exhale, she said, ”Mom od’d again.”
“Is she okay?” Ashley asked before doing another hit.
“She’s just sleeping it off. She’ll be fighting dad for another pill soon as they release her.”
Britney James loved her smoke. She did like to put down a little bit of liquor as well, but never indulged in pills like her friends. There were plenty of opportunities for her to follow in her mother’s footsteps. Actually, it was seeing how the pills made Brenda James act that kept Britney from taking them herself.
Brenda had been a lot better mother before the painkillers. One rainy night about four years ago on the way back from Lexington on Interstate 64, a semi-truck swerved into Brenda’s path. Brenda’s Ford Explorer could not handle its driver’s attempt to avoid being hit and flipped over several times. When the paramedics arrived on the scene they expected to be pulling a sheet over the driver’s head. But Brenda survived the wreck, although it cost her a few weeks in the hospital. She later shook off the injuries she suffered as a result of the crash, but she never found the strength to shake off the painkillers. Of course, there was still some pain and stiffness, but many people suspected the damage was not sufficient enough to warrant taking as many and as strong painkillers as she did. One person obviously agreed with her and that was her pain doctor in Portsmouth.
Britney and Brenda had been very close before the accident. After the wreck, Brenda changed. She was never energetic and she never even laughed anymore. She worried more about getting more pills when her prescription ran out then she did about where her daughter was or what she was doing.
The high schools in the Huntington area were all filled with students on pills and students who consumed alcohol at weekend parties. Britney started drinking at some of those parties when she was about sixteen. She was far from being an alcoholic, but she was still under the legal drinking age. She was fairly dependent on pot. She could quit drinking anytime but smoking marijuana may be another thing altogether.
Her father did not know that his little angel liked to fly high. He probably would not have cared about the little drinking she did because he and all of his friends did when they were her age. In fact, if you did not drink then, you simply were not cool. The pot may have concerned him a little but he would have accepted it eventually after ranting and raving a while.
What would have scared the crap out of him were the people his little girl was hanging around with and the things that they did. Britney graduated from hanging out at high school parties on weekends to hanging out at the houses of drug dealers on a regular basis. Matt did not have any idea of what his daughter did. He trusted her judgment totally. Even though he was naïve when it came to his daughter, he was never around her much anymore to ever suspect anything. He was always out of town or working at his second job. It was hard to imagine two people that lived in the same house seeing each other any less than Matt and Britney seen of each other.
“We bout to get lit in here,” Terrell Jones announced as laid down a plate of crushed Oxies in front of four girls. “We got the big boys right here,” he said referring to the pills he was preparing to snort with a plastic straw.
The plate eventually passed in front of Britney. “I’ll pass,” she said quietly.
“You just sticking to the fire, Baby?” Terrell asked.
“Yep. Waiting for Donte to come through.”
“That’s straight. He’s bout to pull up.”
“The club’s gonna be poppin’ tonight, we’re gonna ride through there.”
“That’s what’s up.” Terrell approved walking away from the girls and into his kitchen to grab a Corona. Terrell loved to entertain in his apartment. It was good for business, too. Terrell moved enough pills and pot through the week to kick back and give away a little product on the weekend. The partying tonight was all on Terrell. It was what kept his bachelor pad full of girls. It was good advertisement as well. The girls would get turned on to good product and then go spread the word. They would call later and return with friends who had cash and Terrell would make back the money he spent on his samples. Terrell loved to party with young girls and if it meant giving away a few pills, then it was worth it to him.
The other three girls snorted up the oxies the way a fat kid tackles a pizza. Britney was more interested in Donte Carter. In fact the only reason why she was even at Terrell Jones’s house was to see his best friend Donte. She was not sure how her dad would feel about her being interested in an African American boy but she knew her dad was not prejudiced and that Donte was very likeable. She thought once he got to know Donte, the color of her boyfriend’s skin would not matter to her father. But, Donte was not her boyfriend yet.
Terrell Jones and Donte Carter had been best friends since they could walk. The peculiar thing was that even though they had spent so much time together, they appeared to be as different as night and day.
Terrell was very stocky, almost barrel-chested. He was about 5 foot 10 and about two hundred and thirty pounds. His skin was coal black and he wore his black hair in dreadlocks. His voice was rough and he spoke with authority. His laugh was equally as loud and boisterous. Terrell believed in hitting first and asking questions second.
The trait that made Terrell so different than Donte was that Terrell loved drugs. He started out as a big customer on the block where they grew up. As early as thirteen years old, Terrell bought crack, pills, or anything that the drug dealers on Hal Greer Boulevard had on them. At twenty-four he still loved drugs, but he had cut down on the consumption of them since dealing drugs was now his business. He loved the high and would indulge, but he made sure that he still had a fairly clear mind and would no longer get strung out like when he was a teenager.
Terrell loved girls. He knew that there were many young white girls in Huntington that loved Lil’ Wayne and other rappers. He tried his part to be one hundred per cent street thug so he would not disappoint them. This meant having thug hair, speaking thug, cranking thug music, and always having plenty of drugs on him. In fact, Terrell did not have great looks so he relied on his gangsta image and drugs to reel in the white girls.
Donte, on the other hand was tall and although he was skinny, he had some muscles that shot through his arms. Donte was six foot three and came in under two hundred pounds. His skin was caramel colored and he wore his hair in a buzz cut. If Terrell was street, then Donte was downtown. His wardrobe was well more conservative than Terrell’s was.
Donte worked as an orderly at Cabell Huntington Hospital and was going to school to be an x-ray technician. He had never been interested in drugs. Terrell and Donte had done almost everything together while growing up. This included playing high school football, writing rap songs, and romancing females. However, this did not include drugs. Donte had done just enough drugs to know that they were not for him. He did not like anything that had control over his mind for too long. He did like to puff on a little bit of weed every now and then though.
The phone rang and Terrell walked into the other room. Britney drank another Smirnoff Red and then headed for the bathroom. She was hoping it was Donte on the phone so she got close enough to eavesdrop. It became obvious it was not Donte when Terrell began cussing and screaming at the person on the other end of the phone. Britney was curious why Terrell was so worked up but as mad as he suddenly became, she did not want to take the chance of him catching her snooping.
“Bro, you tell them this is my game too. I gotta eat too. I don’t give a fuck; I ain’t sweating them Detroit goons. It’s a free country, bitch, just because they can’t make that paper doesn’t mean I can’t make that paper.”
“I ain’t playin’ that game!” Terrell screamed after a pause. “I don’t care what Deandre says, I ain’t afraid of nothin’. Ain’t nobody gonna put me out of business. I ain’t taking no orders from anyone. I ain’t no one’s bitch!”
There was a pause. Then, “I gotta get mine, too.” Britney heard a fist punch a wall as she walked back into the living room.
John Ross watched Deandre Washington stroll into AJ’s Bar. He was flanked on each side by a henchman. Ross had never seen Washington or his men before but had seen plenty of pictures of them. These guys were the real deal. They were one hundred percent pure thug. They were not anything like the generic local wannabes who talked and postured like the thugs they had seen on television. These guys were cold hearted reptiles of men. They would just as soon snap someone’s neck off of their shoulders as to argue with them.
Deandre Washington was a much feared man in Huntington and Detroit. The Huntington Police Department had never been able to pin anything on him but they knew he was behind most of the violence that had occurred in Huntington in the last decade. No one ever was able to place Deandre at the scene of the crime. It was thought that he was the ‘manager.’ He came down and scoped the situation then came up with the solution to any problems. He would slide back up to Detroit. Then, in the next few days, all hell would break loose. But, whenever anyone tried to find Deandre to question him, he was nowhere to be found.
Deandre was smooth. He didn’t speak much but whatever he said was important. He loved to smile. He had a habit of chewing on toothpicks. Deandre Washington was the epitome of cool. He was 6 foot 3, 220 pounds of solid muscle. The young girls of Huntington swooned when he walked past them. He had dozens of women in every town he stepped into and he used all of them to execute his plans to perfection. No girl had ever meant anything to Deandre and there would probably never be a girl that would mean very much to him. Girls were weapons to be used against weak men. In his eyes, the female of the human race was responsible for the downfall of more civilizations and organizations then any other factor. A female can make a man kill faster than maybe even money. Of course, Deandre was not about to risk his freedom over a woman but he would kill in a heartbeat over money. He knew many fools that were weak enough to kill over what they thought was love.
His men did all of his talking. Mardy was quite good at that. He was a 6 foot 4, 260 pound pit bull of a man. He was not just Deandre’s muscle but he was his mouth as well. Like a pit bull, he came alive when he smelled blood. He loved blood so much he sometimes referred to himself as “The Black Vampire.”
Remy was smaller than the two guys he accompanied to the bar. He was just under six foot and not near as imposing looking. He was like a modern version of the Old West gunslingers. He was the hired gun that was always called in to teach locals a lesson. He did not say a whole lot either. He mainly just laughed when Mardy clowned and agreed when Deandre spoke.
Ross could not look away from the trio. He followed every move they made. Deandre noticed the small white guy staring at him. Deandre and Ross locked eyes. It was hate at first sight. Deandre said something to Mardy as he had a visual showdown with the Barney Rubble looking guy leaning against the barroom wall.
Suddenly, Mardy took off strutting toward John Ross. Ross took a couple of steps away from the wall. Mardy stopped in front of Ross and just stared at him for a few seconds.
The two had an old fashioned staredown when Mardy finally spoke. “Are you popo?”
Ross did not know what to do. He froze and just stood there. This was neither the time or place for a confrontation.
Mardy spoke again. “Why you muggin my peoples? Are you popo?”
Finally Ross answered, “Yes, I am a Huntington Police officer.” Then, he just stood there with eyes locked on Mardy’s eyes. The adrenalin flowing through Ross’s veins was causing his body to shake.
“You petty,” Mardy answered laughing. The Detroit gangster loved the stage. He held up his knuckles for Ross to read the tattoo. Spread across both hands were the letters ‘m-u-n-n-i-n-g-ton’. “Know what that means PoPo?”
“It means you can’t spell Huntington?” the cop quipped. His eyes were still staring a hole in Mardy’s eyes but his mouth curled slightly up as if he were trying to smile.
“Haha you got jokes, Playa. It means Huntington may be your town, but it’s my money town. This lil’ cracker ass town makes me money. There’s more than enough paper in this town for you clowns, so I come down to get my cut.”
“Yeah, yeah, Munnington is Money Town. I get it.” John Ross knew this guy was a performer who loved the stage but he also knew that this was a very dangerous man who should be taken very seriously.
“Listen, if you smart. Stay out of our way, you wouldn’t want to get chopped up.” He then smiled. “Keep muggin’ you gonna get a buck fifty, Playboy. “ Mardy knew he made his point. He knew good and well that the cop knew who he was and was going to run and tell his police friends about their encounter.
The thug walked back across the bar and laughed with his two associates. They all looked at Ross and smiled. The smiles left their faces for a few seconds, then, they turned and walked out the door. The gangsters loved to laugh and took of any advantage to get a laugh at the expense of the police, but they always meant business. They goal was to make someone laugh and quake in fear at the very same time. Mardy felt like he had the talent to be a comedian but he loved to kill too much. The only thing he loved better than to see one of his jokes make someone laugh was to see the look in someone’s eyes when they realized that Mardy would soon be taking their last breath.
John Ross did not quite know what to think. Had he just been threatened by a gangster hit man? He finished his beer and headed to the bathroom. He locked the bathroom door and called the police station. Soon, he was talking to Sergeant Harris.
“Sarge, Deandre Washington and his pit bulls are in town.”
“Yeah, we know. Info’s been coming in the last hour. It’s all kind of sketchy now.”
“One of his pit bulls, I think his name is Mardy, told me I’d get chopped up if I didn’t stay out of his way. They were in AJ’s but they left. I think the other guy was Remmie … maybe. Not sure but I think he’s the shooter they send out when there’s trouble.”
“Colorful guys, huh?”
“Yep, a regular barrel of fun.”
“Things are happening here. We’ve already phoned in for help from other departments. Even the DEA is coming in. The Chief is going to give a briefing tomorrow.”
“Anyone know what’s going down?”
“Not really. The pieces are still coming together. We are getting bits here and there. Deandre only comes in when something is about to happen. But, then again, maybe he just came in to see one of his women.”
“Well, they didn’t stay long, but then again, I wouldn’t think AJ’s is his style. I’d think he’d be at Herd Heaven or The New Warehouse.”
“About how long were they there?”
“They didn’t even get a drink. They just looked around and Deandre and I got into a stare down. Then Mardy came over running his mouth and showed me his Munnington tattoos.”
“Classy guys, huh? Well, things are jumping around here so I better get off the phone. They partnered some of the rookies up with some of the older guys. They have Jerry Bing riding with Mark Tice and Tracy Roberts with Todd Burnett and they are all patrolling downtown around those bars, so if something goes down they’ll be there. Not sure why they would be down at AJ’s, that’s not their crowd.”
“Anything you need me to do?”
“Just relax and stay out of trouble. It might be your last night off for a while. I’ll pass the word where they were.”
“All right, good luck and I’ll see you tomorrow.”
“Yep, something tells me tomorrow’s the night if anything does happen. Well, I gotta go, Later John.”
Ross hung up the phone and ordered another beer. He was not sure what to do next. He really was not in the mood to hunt for women tonight. His adrenalin was racing due to his little confrontation. He drank his second beer in about three drinks, then another one. That one was gone in five drinks. His curiosity was on fire. Why were the thugs in town? Why were rumored drug assassins from Detroit in Huntington? He could finally sense that real police work was coming and coming fast.
Matt James walked outside of St. Mary’s Hospital and headed down the street. It was now 10:30 and Brenda was slipping in and out of consciousness. She was out of danger but the hospital insisted on keeping her for observation. They both knew the drill. The nurses and doctors knew the game as well.
The doctors were well aware that Brenda would go back to her pain medication as soon as she left the hospital. The first time she overdosed, they tried to encourage her to seek out help with her addiction. But with each trip to the emergency room, they lose hope that she will seek out help on her own. The sad truth about addiction is that it is up to that person to help themselves. If they do not want to change there is not much outsiders can do to force them to quit. Sure, they could lock her up, but when she left, she would return to taking drugs.
Addiction was a familiar foe to West Virginia doctors. Huntington had slowly developed a drug culture over the last decade until it has gotten to the point that no one in their right mind could deny that Huntington was full of drug addicts. Pill zombies and meth heads ruled the nights in Huntington like monsters in a horror movie.
For a drug addict like Brenda James to overcome her addictions, it would take several factors to be in place. One, she and her family would have to step outside of their bubble of denial and admit she had a problem. Brenda would have to agree to seek outside help to assist her in kicking her habits. The family would have to give her love and support through her ordeal.
Many drug addicts must change their whole lifestyles. Brenda’s case is a little different because she was not surrounded by pill zombies. But many addicts must find new friends and stay away from certain family members. Perhaps the hardest obstacle for a recovering addict is to be surrounded by friends and family who indulge in drugs. When a drug addict is constantly around drugs, the temptation to do drugs can be overwhelming. Addicts often need to take up new hobbies as well. Many times, pill zombies do not think about anything but pills. If they kick the habit, then that leaves a lot of time in their daily routine to fill. They must totally change their previous drug culture to a positive environment that is completely void of drugs.
As he walked down the street, Matt began to become aware that earlier in the evening he had been within minutes of losing the love of his life. At first, it had not sunk in because he was in denial. Now, since the adrenalin was starting to settle, he realized that something needed to be done about his wife or he would soon lose her forever. In her other two overdoses, the couple had acted like nothing had ever happened. After they left the hospital on those occasions, the topic of her overdoses was taboo. It was something that was not discussed. It had been an unexplainable accident, the doctors had overreacted, or it had all been an illusion that had never really happened.
This was all becoming too much for Matt James. It was as though demons were jumping out of the shadows and terrorizing him. Each step brought a new horror. In the darkness, Matt was aware of how alone he was now. His wife was almost another casualty in a life that had been full of loss the last few years.
Matt had been rocked by the loss of his mom and dad who had both died in the last five years. He had suffered the loss of a couple of friends who had also passed and several who had moved away. He also missed friends who were local, but who just thought they had outgrown “The Wild Thing” without taking in consideration that he had matured as well during the years. He rounded the corner and ghosts of his losses were jumping out from all sides.
There was the loss of his youth, the loss of sleep due to his constant working, the loss of his dreams as he realized he would never own his own business and was doomed to work endless hours for someone else the rest of his life. He even felt the loss of his beloved Babers in many ways. True, he still loved her with all of his heart, but she was no longer the little girl who waited on him to bring her candy and to tuck her in at night and tell her a story.
In many ways, he suffered the loss of a partner. Since the accident, Brenda had become a stranger to him. They were not around each other as much. Conversation, sex, and closeness seemed to be lost between him and Brenda. It was like a part of her, the part that was close to him, died in the accident.
As he walked down the street, he suddenly noticed everything that had changed in Huntington as well. As he approached 29th Street, he became aware The Big Bear Grocery Store, where he had often worked, was now a medical building. The old Huntington East High School was no longer at the corner of 29th Street. It had been consolidated with Huntington High and a new building had been built. These changes had happened long ago but it was like it all suddenly hit him at once. It was like there was no longer any trace of his childhood. His city had left him behind. The Huntington he knew was gone.
. He decided to take a slow drive through downtown Huntington and actually look at his hometown. This was something he had not done since he was a kid. He had been on the road so much the last decade or two that he had not even noticed the roads of his hometown. So he got into his Sorento and headed toward downtown.
He hope started his drive at Pullman Square, at the center of town. This had been meant to be the great hope of Huntington. The long heralded Superblock that would bring Huntington the tourists and commerce it lost when they let the mall slip away to Barboursville. Pullman Square turned out okay, Matt thought. He was suddenly craving Chi Chi’s, the Mexican restaurant that was knocked down to make room for Pullman Square. But Pullman Square did provide a family environment. While it was true that a family of five could not eat there regularly, it did give Huntington something to be proud of. It was an entertainment complex with state of the art movie theatres, a comedy club, and a huge bookstore.
He did miss Nick’s News on the corner of Fourth Avenue and Davidson Records but family owned businesses had taken a beating across the country and the demise of mom and pop stores was not limited to Huntington. Besides, the bookstore at Pullman was locally owned and Now Hear This was a locally owned CD store downtown.
Downtown had changed drastically but it was not the ghost town many downtowns had become. He was saddened by the presence of so many panhandlers downtown; it was another example of the drug fallout. As people spent more money on drugs they became poor and often lost their jobs. They hung out at The City Mission downtown. The City Mission also attracted drifters. They would hang out in the day and bum money for drugs and alcohol. That certainly was one reason why shoppers did not support downtown businesses like in the past.
At night though, downtown Huntington had a night life. There always had been college bars on Fourth Avenue in Huntington but now they had worked their way closer to down town. These were the bars that caused the most trouble and had the most drugs. Too bad they had moved the jail. The old jail on Fourth Avenue would have saved the police cars gas and drive time when they arrested dealers at these bars.
Matt called it a tie between Huntington of now and the Huntington of his youth. He appreciated the family environment of Pullman Square but missed the old downtown Huntington of his day. As he was driving, he did admit to himself that the traffic flow was better these days. He remembered the fiasco of the old ‘cruise avenues’ and the traffic cluster that they caused. Cruise avenue, he laughed, that would be called Oxy Avenue if it was still around today. Drugs were bad there then, he could only imagine how bad it would be now.
Back then it seemed like kids did not have the money to spend on drugs. The Oxy pills the kids loved now average thirty dollars a pill. That was a whole month’s allowance back then, he laughed. He’d have to cut four or five lawns to get that. Kids today just had it too easy, he thought. Parents worked themselves silly so their kids could have it easy. When the kids become adults they do not have a positive work ethic. The only thing kids know about work is that their parents work themselves to death and they do not want to be like their parents.
Matt decided to go back to the hospital. He was not going to worry about fixing Huntington at this moment. He was going to fix his own family. He was going to start with his own backyard. Maybe that was what was wrong with Huntington. People thought too big. Maybe everyone needed to think small and start with their own family and their own backyard. Matt knew there were weeds in his backyard and he was going to mow them down. His family was going to blossom again soon.
Matt James met Brenda Davis at the old Jakes on Third Avenue over twenty years ago. He was immediately enticed by her bubbly charm and her wide blue eyes. In those days, Brenda liked to party. The Wild Thing and The Blue Eyed Beauty were inseparable. A year after they met, they were married in the backyard of Matt’s parents. Two years later, little Britney arrived. The first few years of Britney’s life were the best years of Matt’s life.
Matt and Brenda quit drinking when Britney was born. In fact, the trio was a wonderful family through the years. Brenda was active in Britney’s school activities. Matt coached her youth softball team. They vacationed every year in Myrtle Beach. In those days, Matt worked just one job. Brenda worked various jobs over the years but always contributed. The accident changed everything and the drugs made it worse.
Matt was going to kill some weeds in his garden. He was going to work less and tend to his family garden more. Life was going to become the promise it was intended to be when he married Brenda. He understood now that you can not just let a garden grow, it takes work. You have to hoe the garden and pull the weeds. To grow beautiful flowers you have to nurture them. If you just rely on rain and nature, then your flowers will be surrounded by weeds. Weeds will stunt your flowers’ growth or perhaps even kill your flowers.
Britney kept glancing at her cell phone for the time as she sipped on another Smirnoff Red. “Terrell doesn’t sound too happy on the phone. I overheard him when I went to the bathroom.”
“Probably just bidness,” Amber, a cute blonde sitting across from Britney, said. Britney did not know Amber very well. She was just an acquaintance Britney ran into at the club from time to time.
“Been trouble coming out of Detroit, is what I’ve heard.” Heather, a portly redhead, chimed in. Heather was Amber’s friend. Britney was wondering if Donte was interested in Amber. She knew that he certainly was not seeing Heather. Amber, on the other hand, could pose some competition.
“Always something comin’ down from there,” Britney’s friend Ashley answered in an all-knowing tone of voice. Ashley was a girl that Britney had met through some other friends. Ashley Kilgore had a thing for Terrell and an even bigger thing for Oxycotins. “As long as they keep the big boys comin’, it be all right.” She laughed at her own words.
“The club’s probably poppin’ right now”, Britney remarked. She was beginning to wonder if Donte was going to show.
“Are you seeing Donte?’ Amber asked bluntly.
Britney was caught off guard. “Uh… not really. I mean we’ve been talking.”
“I didn’t mean to be nosey. He’s just so RAWR.”
Britney laughed. “We’re supposed to chill at The New Warehouse tonight. We’re not really a couple but we’ve hung together a few times.”
Terrell strutted back into the room smoking a blunt. He looked obviously aggravated as he handed the blunt to Heather.
“What’s up?” Heather asked after she took a hit and passed the blunt on to Amber.
“Anger. Assclowns messin’ with da wrong peeps.” Terrell barked out. “They keep flappin’ their jaws, gonna have to shoot the five.”
“Be easy, Terrell. They’re just talking smack.” Heather smiled.
“Them candyasses don’t want none of Terrell. I be blowin’ up on ‘em!” Terrell boasted.
Changing the subject, Britney asked, “Have you heard from Donte?”
“He’s bouncing from work.”
Ashley took a hit of the blunt and remarked. “We need to be rollin’ out soon.”
Britney shot her a wicked glance. She did not have any intentions of leaving without Donte.
Amber looked at Heather. “I think were gonna be rollin’. We’ll hook up with you at the club later.”
Heather followed her to the door. They had their buzz on and were ready for action. Terrell let them out the door and followed them outside. He walked back in shaking his head. “Chickenheads.” He started laughing and took another hit of blunt. He walked back into his bedroom and was on the phone again.
Britney decided to call her father while nothing was going on.
“Hello?” Matt answered.
“Hi, Dad.” Britney spoke cheerfully. “How’s mom?’
“She’s resting. She’s gonna be fine though.”
“Cool. How are you holding up?”
“I’m tired. I’m hoping we aren’t here all night, but you never know. What are you getting into?’
“Just got out of the movies and goin’ to Ashley’s. If anything changes, be sure to call me.”
“She’s fine. But I’ll call if anything does change.”
“Goodnight, Daddy. I love you.”
“I love you, Brit. Be careful.”
· Britney and Ashley talked for a while about Donte and Terrell, the two guys that they had their eyes on and wanted to date. Ashley had been Britney’s friend for only a few months. She had been addicted to pills for over two years. She even smoked crack when it was all she could get. As Britney got deeper into the drug scene, her circle of friends had changed. Ashley was a part of Britney’s ‘new’ group of friends, more like acquaintances then actual friends. These were not people she could depend on. Most of these associates were deep into pills. They would run around with Brit until they eventually stole off of her or violated her trust in some form.
These new friends were a far cry from the athletes and scholars that Brit had called friends in high school and had since lost contact with. Now many of Britney’s classmates gossiped that she was on pills pretty badly, though that was not the truth. But Britney was picking up the bad reputation that the people she associated with had.
As they were talking, the door opened and Donte Carter walked inside. A huge smile shot across his face when he saw Britney on the couch. “Hey Brit Baby!” he burst.
“Donte!” Both girls shouted in an almost sing-song tone of voice.
Donte did not speak ‘street’ like his buddy Terrell. When Britney was around Donte, she did not speak as much slang either.
“We were ‘bout to give up on you,” Brit announced.
“Sorry Baby. Rough night at work.”
“Goin’ to the club tonight?”
“Sorry, Baby. I wish I could. I have to get some studying done and another day at work tomorrow.”
“What!?” Ashley exclaimed. “We’ve been waiting all of this time on you.”
Donte smiled. “Who you trying to fool, Baby Doll? You’ve been filling your nose with Terrell’s big boys!”
“Got that right!” Ashley laughed.
“I’d love to go clubbin’, but a brother has to be responsible or he’ll end up like Terrell.” Donte laughed as he saw Terrell walking back into the room.
“Bro, a brother end up with some serious bling followin’ in these footsteps!” Giving Donte a hug, he followed with, “What’s up, Bro?”
“He’s not gonna chill with us!” Ashley yelped.
“What you sayin?” Terrell questioned. “I thought you were down with clubbin’ tonight?”
“Bro, I’d love to. Work and school are calling me.” Donte said hanging his head.
“That’s straight, Bro. I could use some peeps. Detroit assclowns talkin’ some shit.”
“Be careful, Man. They’re some bad dudes.” Donte looked concerned.
“Said I’m taking their paper.”
“Dawg, better be straight.”
“Just getting’ my cut, doing my thang.”
Donte came around and sat on the couch next to Britney. “How ‘bout a beer, Bro?” Donte extended his empty hand out to Terrell.”
“Straight.” Terrell answered.
“So what’s up, Brit?” Donte asked as he looked into Britney’s eyes.
“Just chilling and hanging with my girl Ashley. You?”
“I’ve got to get home. Busy day tomorrow. You going to be a lady and walk me to my car?”
“Sure. Ashley, I’ll be……” She looked around and noticed Ashley and Terrell had disappeared into the bedroom.
Britney and Donte walked out the door and kept moving as they passed by Donte’s car. “Guess we’re taking a little walk, huh?” Donte looked at Britney and grinned.
“Looks that way.” Britney replied shyly.
“Look, Brit, I was really looking forward to hanging with you tonight. I just got to stay focused. I’ve got a lot going on right now.” Donte said as he moved closer to her and grabbed her hand. He thought about putting his arm around her but he was not quite sure how Britney would react yet. He thought she was in to him but he was not quite positive yet.
“I understand. I’ll chill with you anytime you want to.” Britney felt totally at ease with Donte. She really thought they were destined to be boyfriend and girlfriend but right now they were at the awkward stage that happens right before they start dating. It was like they were waiting for some external force to literally shove them together.
“Listen, Brit, there’s something really special about you. I don’t know how deep I can get involved right now but I want you to know I’m into.” Donte said and it was coming directly from his heart. He had not known Britney for very long. In fact, they had only met at The New Warehouse about a month ago. He felt very drawn and connected to her like destiny had met for them to be together. She had a smile that she to have jumped inside his soul and would not leave. No matter what he was doing, her smile would suddenly become all he could think about and that was happening quite often lately.
“I’m special? Tell me more?” She smiled. She was hoping that this would be the moment that he would ask her out on a date. Donte appeared to be confident and sure of himself when interacting with other people but he appeared to be shy and aloof around her.
“You’re not like the hoes that Terrell usually has hanging at his crib. In fact, I’m not sure why you even come here,” Donte smiled as he looked her in the eyes.
“I likes my smoke.” She said laughing and softly punched him in the arm.
Donte responded by putting his arm around her. Her smile and laugh made him feel comfortable. He just could not understand why he was so nervous about asking her out on a date. He had been on many, many dates. It suddenly occurred to him that it was the girls that usually asked him out.
“Aw, that’s how it is.” Donte laughed. “I was kind of thinking you may be into me.”
“You’re stunnin’.” Britney stopped him and surprised both of them by turning him to face her and by reaching up and kissing him. Of course, Donte kissed her back.
“Like I said, you’re different. You’ve got class. You party and that’s cool. But there’s more to you than just partying. I just really feel like I’m being drawn to you.”
“Isn’t that good?’
“Oh yeah, of course it is. I just don’t want to let my family down. I mean…ah, you know.”
“Nothing wrong with chillin’?’ She smiled reassuring him.
“Yes, but I tell you what, I know you can be a hell of a distraction…of course, I mean that in a good way.” He laughed. He couldn’t believe that he who has romanced many women was so nervous about a girl five years younger than him.”
“A good pest, huh?’
“Hahaha. You know what I mean. You got it, Baby. I don’t know what it is, but you got it.”
They drew near and kissed again.
“I’m not like Ashley.”
“I know, Baby. You golden. Ashley’s just a common ho. She’s in there getting’ it on with Terrell right now. I want to see you again. Soon. Very soon. Just you and me, Baby.”
Britney reached up and they kissed again. They walked back hand in hand to Donte’s car. They kissed several more times.
Whoa, whoa. I gotta go. You’re killing me, Brit. You’re killing me, Baby.”
“In a good way?”
“No better way to go, Baby. No better way to go.”
Donte finally pulled himself away from Britney. He was very happy with himself driving home. He had not felt this way in a long time. A girl had never made him feel this way. He was going to see her tomorrow and then he would ask her out for a dinner. He was going to plan an old fashioned date. He may even do something he had never done before and that was bring her flowers. This was the first girl that ever gave him romantic thoughts. Focused. He had to stay focused.
Britney and Ashley headed to The New Warehouse. Terrell said he would catch up with them later that he had business to tend to and he was not sure how long it would take. Ashley was more disappointed than Britney was but she did not care that much. After all Ashley had gotten a good buzz from Terrell and she got a quick ride in his bedroom. She figured if Terrell liked the preview than he would find a way to come to The New Warehouse for more. If not there were many more men at the club. His pills were good but she doubted he was the only man at The New Warehouse with pills in his pocket.
The New Warehouse was not far from Marshall University’s Campus. It was an old warehouse utilized by a mattress company back in the sixties and seventies. The company went out of business and the old facility stayed vacant for over a decade. In the late eighties, a couple of local businessman bought the building at a fairly cheap price. They renovated into a college bar. The bar rocked the college scene for over a decade. It finally closed down. It sat empty for over another decade before being opened as The New Warehouse.
In the new century, the trend with Huntington college bars was big, huge bars that played different music on different floors. The New Warehouse followed this trend. Downstairs of the club featured the dance floor. The dj played hip hop and dance music. It was hard to talk because the music was deafening. Most of the customers stood around outside of the dance floor downstairs. After about eleven o’clock it became very difficult to walk downstairs. There were extra fans on the ceiling of the downstairs to keep the club from being overheated. The music speakers were downstairs as well.
Upstairs was where patrons went to chill and could hear each other talk. There were more tables set up upstairs than there were downstairs. Downstairs is where the guests would dance or meet someone and then bring them upstairs to chat. There was a bar on each floor. The bar was made up to look like an old warehouse. Upstairs, however, the décor featured an emphasis on Marshall University. There were Marshall signs, sports jerseys, pictures of great Marshall athletes, and the Marshall’s school color kelly green everywhere. If by some chance, a person who wandered into The New Warehouse could not tell it was a college bar by the age and dress of the patrons, the decorations upstairs should definitely give it away that this was a bar frequented by Marshall University students.
Britney and Ashley walked into the crowded club by themselves. Britney immediately ran into people she knew. Some of them bought her Jack and Sevens. The girls were having a blast. It was going on about one in the morning. Britney whispered in Ashley’s ear, “I need to smoke some green.” Ashley agreed.
Ashley looked up and saw a friend of hers and took off to go talk to him. “I’ll see if I can find you a nice blunt.”
Britney looked to her left and saw Amber and Heather, the two girls from Terrell’s apartment. Britney was beginning to feel drunk. She went over to talk to the two girls. After her walk with Donte, she did not consider Amber her competition. In fact, she did not think she had competition for Donte’s feelings at all. She believed Donte Carter was into her.
Standing behind the two girls were two guys. Amber hugged Britney. Turning her to the two men, she introduced them. “This is Britney. I partied with her at Terrell’s tonight.” She winked at the two men.
“Brit, these are good friends of mine. This is Mardy and this is Remy.”
Rick Perry had seen about everything in his twenty years on the Huntington Police Department. It was not an easy rise to plainclothes detective. He had made headlines as both patrol cop and detective. He had solved mysteries that put three murderers away as a detective and single-handedly stopped a bank robbery as a patrol officer.
The bank robbery was his first trip on the front page. A guy had stormed First Huntington Bank, stole five thousand dollars, and took off on foot. Perry got the call and spotted the bandit. He parked his car, took a short cut through an alley and headed the culprit off at the pass. He tackled the thief and placed him in handcuffs. Perry had an awkward way of getting results, but he got them.
Of course, there were many misadventures. Rick had the knack for saying the wrong thing at the wrong time. Even though, his work at times was brilliant, he had an unfortunate nickname of ‘The Blonde.’
The major problem with the nickname is that his hair was black. The nickname described his sudden goofiness at times. Right in the middle of a brilliant deduction, his logic would suddenly go south on him. His fellow officers loved to rag on him. John Ross loved to give him a hard time and tell about Rick’s ‘great feats of blondness.’
One of Ross’s favorite stories about Perry’s adventures as a cop, involved Kathy Roberts, a bartender at the old Jake’s. One night Roberts, who at the time was in her late twenties, was giving a customer in his sixties, a ride to his home after the bar had closed. Officer Perry pulled her over for making a right on red. Kathy argued about how she could be pulled over for making a legal turn.
After a few minutes of an inane argument, Perry asked if she had been drinking. The bewildered bartender was then subjected to a field test in which Perry reluctantly admitted she passed. Then, he practically accused her of being a prostitute. He started inquiring about the passenger in her car. The pretty bartender was tired and started to lose her cool. Perry thought that meant he had hit a nerve and that he was right about her hooking. The pair about ended up in a fistfight.
Finally, she demanded that Perry call her friend John Ross. Perry starting stuttering , walked to his patrol car, and then came back with a lie that he was called out on another call. The spunky woman had run out of patience and was very much considering throwing a punch toward the cop. She was not ready to end the confrontation but Perry hustled back to his car, yelling back that she was lucky an emergency came up.
When Ross asked him about the episode a couple of days later, Perry started talking about how hot Kathy was. He insisted Ross tell Roberts that he wanted to take her out to make it all up to her. When Ross told Kathy this, she exploded and cussed about Perry and the whole police department. Ross went running back and told Perry he was right. She was really, really hot. She was hot at the fact that The HPD hired such an idiot to be a police officer. This did not stop Perry, he continued to ask Ross about her, every time he saw his fellow officer.
Perry finally got the nerve to go in to Jakes on his night off and talk to her. Kathy Roberts flew out from behind the bar and told him that if he did not quit stalking her and asking Ross about her, she was going to call a ‘real’ police office and file a complaint about sexual harassment. Perry finally decided that maybe she was not the girl for him after all.
Tonight, Perry was working the street to find out why Deandre Washington was in town. He had found Wesley, a top informant, hanging out in front of Doug’s Bar on Tenth Avenue.
Perry looked at Wesley and asked, “Why is Deandre Washington in town?”
“Damn, now ya want me to help you solve crimes before they even happen?” Wesley snapped. Wesley Parks was about thirty and very slender. He had short blonde hair and a beard that looked like he was too lazy to shave. He was a rarity in Huntington because he frequented all of the black run establishments and had many black friends but he did not try to blend in with the crowd. Where many whites who hung around blacks tried to act like a ‘brother’, he was just plain ol’ white Wesley. In fact, his street nickname was ‘White Wesley’.
“C’mon Wesley, you know you have ears just as big as your big ol’ nosey nose. To say you have an inquiring mind is an understatement,’ Rick said. The cop knew that it was sometimes rough to pull information out of White Wesley. Wesley always acted timid. Of course, no one in their right mind wanted to snitch on Andre Washington or his men. Wesley did not care to talk about the local boys but he was never in a hurry to talk about the guys from Detroit. Wesley knew that these Michigan fellers were nothing to be playing with unless a guy felt suicidal.
“Well, just let me thank you for tracking me down and pulling up here and talking to me right in the middle of the block. You know, I probably won’t get the chance to thank you tomorrow since I’ll probably be dead tomorrow,” Wesley said with his fear obviously showing. He was stunned that Rick was doing this. He was not bullshitting the cop about being afraid. Deandre Washington had ears and eyes all over town and there would be instant retribution for anyone who discussed Detroit business with the police department.
“And just why would you be dead, Wesley? If you don’t know something then you shouldn’t have to worry about hiding something you don’t know.” Rick sounded like a little kid the way he was taunting Wesley. He knew the informant knew something and he was well aware that the information that Wesley had could save lives.
“Jesus Christ, you’re incredible. We may both get shot just standing here.” Wesley talked out of the side of his mouth as he looked in both directions to see if anyone could see them talking.
“Well, the faster you give me answers then the faster I’ll leave. So if you’re not interested in getting shot up, I’d suggest you’d hurry.” Rick was in a hurry and was not interested in playing games all evening.
Already cars were slowing down and patrons were trying to peak outside the door to see what was going on. Every one knew who Rick Perry was and even if they did not, it would not be hard to figure out that the man in a suit and tie talking to the scraggly looking punk in a wife beater t-shirt was a cop. Wesley tried to walk away but the detective followed.
“Man, why in the hell are you doing this? Ain’t there a law about outing a police informant?”
“There ain’t time for games. You know as well as I do, Washington ain’t here to go the Funny Bone.”
Wesley started walking faster and abruptly turned into an alley. Perry ran up and threw him against the wall.
Perry grabbed him by the shirt collar as he held him against the wall in the alley. He stuck his face in the punk’s and half-spitting, he said. “Listen, be a hero and save some lives. You know Detroit assassins aren’t here for no fucking reason. You better let me know what’s going on or I’ll be following you around every day. People will think we’re gay lovers.”
“What makes you think I know? You think I’m psychic?”
“No, I think you’re fucking Huggy Bear from Starsky and Hutch. Man, you’re wasting time. I’m not asking you for info this time, I’m telling you to tell me.”
“This is an exclusive, man. You gotta pay big. I’ll have to leave town if I tell you. Well, I’m gonna have to leave anyway when every one hears about this.”
“Listen. You tell me now. After all, us taking this guy down might just keep him from killing you when he hears about our meeting.”
“Seriously, Dude. You’re killing me here. All right, all right. You better forget you know me after this.”
“What? Wouldn’t you miss all of the good times we have?”
“Terrell Jones. He’s been cutting in on Detroit’s territory. He’s been warned and not only does not listen, he keeps dissin’ them. He’s a dead man, just like me now.”
“So there’s gonna be a hit on Jones?”
“A big show of force. Gonna make an example of him and others. They wanna scare the competition out of town.”
“You sure this is it?”
“Man, I’m gonna be an example now too. They’ll chop me up as a warning not to talk to police. I can’t believe you did this to me after all the tips I’ve given you.”
“Well, I didn’t have time to play games. Thanks, man, good luck.”
“Now you leave me. Put my head in the noose and leave me waiting here to hang. Thanks man, you just killed me. You killed me, man!”
“You’re an Angel. You’ll go to Heaven for savin’ lives, Wes,” Rick Perry broke into a jog for his car. “See you on the other side, Wesley.”
Britney James was one with the music as Mardy hung over her. The New Warehouse was rocking. The dance floor was packed. Britney was fried. She had drank six Smirnoff Reds and six Jack and Sevens. She had smoked several bowls and blunts of marijuana and still craved more. She was in the zone.
Britney was chilling and enjoying the buzz. She loved the buzz but she was enamored with Mardy as well. He was one hundred per cent per Detroit thug. The streets of Huntington were full with imitation thugs, but Mardy was the real deal. The gangster appeared to be into her as well. It was hard to hear in the club as loud as the music was but Britney was having fun watching Mardy dance.
Britney was buzzing. She closed her eyes. She reopened them and watched the thug move almost up against her. The Huntington girl reached out and grabbed The Detroit gangster’s dreadlocks. “This is almost like being with Lil’ Wayne,” she gushed to herself.
“So Amber told me you know my boy Terrell Jones.” Mardy said.
“Oh yeah. You know Terrell? We chill with him all the time.”
“Terrell and Remy and I go way back. Don’t we Remy?”
Remy chipped in,” Yeah, we was wantin’ to hang with him while we were in town.”
“He’ll probably come through here tomorrow since he didn’t make it tonight.”
“I need some fire,” Mardy whispered in her ear. “Wanna burn one?”
“We gonna get lit!” Mardy motioned for Remy.
“We gotta find Ashley.” Britney said looking around the crowded bar.
“C’mon Baby Girl. No time, gotta roll.”
“I need to tell her we’ll back right back.”
Remy poked in, “Chill, Baby, we be back before she knows it.”
Britney kept glancing back as she followed the men out the door.
“Taking off Brit?” J.C. the doorman asked.
“Tell Ashley if you see her I’ll be right back.”
“We take a fast cruise,” Mardy said.
“No, I can’t leave Ashley here.”
“It’s all good, Baby. We be right back.” Mardy reassured her.
“Let’s just fire it up outside your car, no one we’ll see us. We do it all of the time.”
“Ahhhhh, no, no.” Remy said. “We gotta at least get in the car.”
“No, not without Ashley.” Britney protested as they kept walking.
Suddenly, Mardy turned around to grab Britney. Although surprised, Britney ducked under Mardy’s lunging attempt to subdue her. She tried to get past him and he tackled her. Britney screamed as Mardy punched her twice in the back of the head.
Britney fell down on the ground and Mardy started dragging her to the car. Britney was barely conscious but tried to fight the gangster. Mardy drilled her in the side of the face.
Mardy shoved her head straight down. Remy moved around the pair and grabbed her upper body and held it down. Brit tried to scream but Remy had her mouth down in the gravels of the parking lot. Mardy pulled her jeans to her ankles. Britney gave up the fight as she faked unconsciousness.
Remy now had his knees on top of Brit’s head grinding her face into the dirt. Mardy bent her over at the waist and thrust himself into her over and over.
“Hey, what the fuck is goin’ on over there,” a male voice cut through the darkness.
Mardy stood straight up. He whipped out a gun and whirled around and shot into the darkness. “This is what the fuck is goin’ on, Bitch!”
There were screams and the sound of people scattering. Mardy pulled his pants up. Suddenly Brit shot to her feet to make a run for it. More voices could now be heard as people were coming from the bar to see why a gun was fired.
Mardy grabbed Brit from behind and pile drove her head into a Ford Ranger. “Tell your boy Terrell Jones, Motown says hello!” Mardy barked toward Britney. The Detroit duo raced to their car and sped away as sirens erupted somewhere in the night.
Britney’s body slumped to the ground. She was sprawled out motionless on the parking lot, naked from the waist down.
Wesley Parks left Doug’s Bar around one o’clock. He had been tipping Mickey’s Malt Liquor and had a few shots of tequila so he was feeling pretty good. He headed down the same alley that he had his encounter with Rick Perry earlier in the evening. He was still a little nervous although he had told himself that everything was okay. He still found himself looking over his shoulder.
The alley seemed extra dark tonight. Wesley looked back over his shoulder again. When he looked back around he thought he saw a dark figure ahead of him. He stopped and started to turn around and go back the other way. Then he noticed another figure walk into the alley behind him.
Wesley hesitated and watched the figure in front of him come closer. “Who is it?” He yelled out.
“Good evening, White Wesley!” Deandre Washington boomed.
Wesley turned around and again to see the other man was almost directly in back of him. He turned to face Deandre. Deandre slammed him against the wall.
“I heard you had a little meeting with 5-0 tonight?”
“I –I didn’t say anything, Deandre. I promise.”
“Of course you didn’t.” Deandre pulled out a sharp switchblade and cut the white wife-beater t-shirt off of Wesley. “You don’t ever talk do you, Wesley?”
“You got it wrong, man.”
Roscoe, another of Deandre’s henchmen, now stood beside Deandre. He was 6 foot 5, about three hundred pounds and was completely bald. He resembled a professional bodyguard with huge ripped arms. He reached out and grabbed Wesley by the throat and pinned him against the wall.
“I’m going to give you a spelling lesson Wesley.”
“What?” Wesley asked while choking from the pressure of Roscoe’s huge black hand.
“I’m going to spell a word for you, Wes.” He took the knife and held it against the shaking informant’s chest. Deandre slowly carved an ‘S’ deep into Wes’s pecs. Roscoe stuffed a rag into Wesley’s mouth to mute his scream.
Deandre took the knife and carved out an ‘N’. Both he and Roscoe started laughing. He slowly scratched out a half of an ‘I’, paused, and then finished the letter. “Damn, Wes, you need to work out, Son. Your chest is too scrawny to hold very many letters on it. I’m going to have to scrunch the rest up.”
Wesley could barely stand the pain. He was trying to break free but was having trouble breathing as Roscoe had him in a death grip.
Deandre went deep with the ‘T’ and blood squirted. “Whoa Wesley. Watch that blood. Gonna get me dirty, Man.”
“Can you guess what I’m spelling, Wes?” Deandre mused as he carved out a ‘C’. “Hold still, Wes, only one more letter.” The ‘H’ drew serious blood. “Oh, a gusher.”
“Looks like someone’s a snitch.” Roscoe said.
“Do we have time for snitches, Roscoe?”
“Hell no, we don’t.”
“Sorry Wes, Roscoe said we don’t have time for snitches.” Deandre took the blade and slowly cut a deep gash across the thin man’s throat. Wesley shook a few times as blood spewed from his neck. Then he slumped to the ground.
“Goodbye, White Wesley.” Deandre purred. “Remember… snitches get their throats slit. Man that feels good Roscoe. I don’t kill nearly enough anymore. Feels good to get my hands dirty every now and then.”
Mardy and Remy pulled up in front of Terrell Jones’s apartment. Mardy grinned and said, “Party time!”
It was around one thirty in the morning. They had one more job to do before they hit the road to Detroit. They would get reassigned and probably sent to Toledo or some small town in Ohio and two more guys would replace them in Huntington. The Huntington Police would never be able to arrest them for the rape of Britney James. They figured half of the police force was at The New Warehouse investigating Britney’s rape and the other half was in the alley pouring over Wes’s carved up body. They had this little bit of business to do then they had a clear path out of town.
They kicked in the door to Terrell’s apartment and went in firing. They sprayed fire all over the apartment. Mardy shot up his Terrell’s computer and stereo. Remy took pleasure in laying waste to his couch. They both teamed up to spray bullets across the walls. Mardy spun into the bedroom and covered Terrell’s bed with bullet holes. He spotted the fish tank and soon the fish were swimming on Terrell’s floor. The duo turned and quickly retreated to the car and headed to Ohio.
John Ross entered into Speedway on Third Avenue. It was shortly after one A.M. He acknowledged the clerk Todd and walked to the middle aisle of the store. He was debating whether to finish off the night with a six-pack or just grab some food and get ready for the morning.
The middle-aged cop was not aware of any of the events that had taken place in Huntington. He could not get the confrontation with the Detroit gangsters out of his mind. It was still bothering him as to why they were in town and why Mardy had approached him. He decided on a six-pack of Budweiser just as Rick Perry came into the store.
Perry could tell that his friend had been drinking and just shook his head. “What’s up Big John? Been out hunting I see? No trophies?”
“Nah, didn’t catch anything tonight.”
“Hey, that’s good. Because it’s when you catch something that you really do catch something.”
John did not even try to figure that one out. He just wrote it off as more ‘blondness’ from the detective. “What are you doing out this late? Doesn’t look like you’re drinking?”
“Working, buddy, working. Us plainclothes boys are never done.”
“So what’s going on? I ran into Washington and a couple of his thugs earlier tonight at AJ’s.”
“I heard that you had a run-in with them. So far nothing is goin’ on. I did find out that they are after Terrell Jones.”
“Jones. From the block?”
“Yeah, a stocky dude with dreadlocks.”
“Yeah, I know of him. Was a football player turned dealer. Hmmm. Got the Detroit boys on his tail, huh? Guess he was offsides again.” He laughed at his own joke, but Perry did not understand it. Perry’s phone started to ring.
“Shit, it’s the Chief.” Perry said. The Huntington Chief of Police Mike Beal was a very hands-on type of police chief. He had set up a communications center down at the station and was even working late on a Saturday monitoring the situation.
“Yes, Chief?” Perry asked.
“Rick, are you still out and about?”
“Yeah, I’m at Speedway on Third.”
“We have a report of a rape in the parking lot down at The New Warehouse. We have a few cruisers down there but I was wanting you to go see what you can find out.”
“Sure. Is it connected to Detroit?”
“Well, that’s the $64,000 question right now. The details are sketchy but it’s looking like it might be?”
“Who’s the girl?”
“Not quite sure. Britney something or other. One of the guys is talking to her friend but her friend is tore up in more ways than one and not making much sense.”
“I’ll talk to her. How is the victim?”
“She’s on her way to St. Mary’s. Pretty severe head injury. Pretty bad trauma. She may not make it. They smacked her around and it looks like she hit her head on something pretty hard and she’s in a coma.”
“Well, they are in the process of going through security tapes to see who she left the bar with. The doorman said it was two street-looking black guys but we don’t know if it’s the Detroit guys that everyone has been talking about. It could be related or it could be a coincidence.”
“I’m not sure why hit men would rape someone unless they wanted to send a message.”
“Well, there was a black guy with dreads firing a gun in the parking lot. Wait a minute, Rick.”
Rick shook his head at John Ross. “It’s starting. I think.”
The Chief continued, “Rick, we are getting a report of a body found in an alley behind Doug’s Bar. It’s a white guy with scraggily blond hair. Apparently, he had ‘snitch’ carved in his chest and his throat cut from ear to ear.”
“White Wesley!” Perry thought to himself without saying anything.
“Why don’t you just head up there. Again, not sure if it is all related or just a wild night. If it is all related, it sounds like a prelude to a war.”
“I’ll check it out, Chief.”
“All right. It’s already been a long night. We have Detroit sightings everywhere. Seems Deandre Washington has been all around town and everyone is nervous. We tried to find that Jones boy but he must be laying low.”
“All right, Chief. Talk to you in a bit.”
“They found a dead snitch up in the alley behind Doug’s Bar.” Perry told Ross.
“Do they know who it is?”
“Sounds like White Wesley but no ID as of yet. Just happened. He’s up in the alley smiling from ear to ear and someone carved ‘snitch’ into his chest.”
“Looks like ol’ Wes ran that mouth one time too often.”
“Yeah, sounds like he had some info on Washington and his boys. Well, I gotta run. You may wanna forget about that six, this town may be a war zone by this time tomorrow. On second thought, maybe you better drink it while you can.”
“Be careful Rick. I guess I’ll be seeing you at the briefing tomorrow.”
“Oh yeah, I’m sure you will.”
As Rick Perry got into his car and started it, a report came out that an apartment had been shot up. Cars were being dispatched to the scene. No one knew if there were any injuries.
“This is turning into a full-fledged war if this is all connected,” Rick thought. In his heart, he knew Washington’s men killed Wesley because of what Wes had told him. Rick was keeping that information to himself. No one needed to know that Perry’s ‘blondness’ of cornering a man in the open got the man killed.
Matt James was standing outside the emergency room getting a breath of fresh air. He noticed an ambulance roaring toward the hospital. A Huntington Police car was right behind it. Suddenly, his cell phone started ringing. He looked at the phone and noticed it was Britney’s number.
“Hello Brit,” his voice perked up.
There was silence and he questioned, “Brit?”
“Is – is this Brit’s dad?” a female voice quivered.
“Yes it is. Who is this?”
“Mr. James. This is Ashley. Brit… Brit”
“Where is my daughter?”
“She’s hurt. She’s hurt real bad…”
“Where is she?” Matt’s adrenalin was starting to soar. His hands started to shake. “Where is she now?”
“She is in an ambulance on the way to St. Mary’s.”
“Is there a police car following her?”
Matt closed the cell phone and ran toward the ambulance that was now parking. Tony Bernard, a Huntington Police officer jumped out of his car to cut Matt off. Tony was several inches shorter and several pounds lighter than Matt James.
“Whoa. Stop!” Bernard commanded. “Who are you?”
“My daughter is in there!” Matt yelled half excited and half in pain.
“Sir, please calm down. What is your name?”
“Get out of my way! I want to see my daughter!”
Matt lunged toward the back of the ambulance. Tony Bernard moved swiftly in front of him blocking his path. Matt came up with a huge left upper cut. Bernard stepped around it and grabbed Matt’s right arm and jerked it behind his back in a twisted hold and took Matt down to one knee.
“I want to see my daughter!”
The paramedics opened the door to the ambulance and started to take Britney inside.
“Sir, please calm down. Please stay out of the way and let people do their jobs, your daughter’s life depends on it!”
“Let me see her!”
“Sir, I’m going to let you up. It’s best that you don’t see her. They are taking her inside. She needs you to be cool right now.”
“Let me up, please?”
“Okay, slowly get up and I’ll loosen the hold. Any sudden moves and I’m forcing you back down. Got it?”
“Yes.” Matt slowly rose to his feet. His whole body was shaking. The paramedics had wheeled Britney inside.
“All right, Sir. Try to stay calm. This is all very important. Your daughter needs you to be level headed.”
“What happened?’ Matt started to move toward the hospital but Tony grabbed his left arm and yanked him back.
“Please Sir. I understand what is going through your mind. But we have to talk.”
“Okay.” Matt tried to calm himself down by taking a deep breath.
“All right. What is your name, Sir?”
“I hate to ask this, Sir. But can I see your ID?”
“Yes.” He fumbled for his wallet. “Was there an accident?’
“What is your daughter’s name?”
“Britney. Britney James. Officer, what happened? I’m being patient here. Please tell me something.”
“Mr. James, your daughter has been assaulted.”
“Somebody beat her up?’
“Yes Sir. And please try to be calm but she has possibly been sexually assaulted as well.”
“Somebody raped my Babers?” Matt was overwhelmed with rage. Adrenalin raged through his body like an angry swollen river. He was done being patient, he turned and headed toward the door. Tony Bernard tackled him and brought him to the ground. Matt was too big and too angry for the young cop, he literally picked Tony up and threw him off of him.
“Sir, please don’t make me taser you.”
“Some animal raped my baby and you want to taser me? If you and your partners were doing your jobs, she wouldn’t be here.”
“Sir, you can see her when they clean her up. She needs the doctor’s attention. Please don’t make this worse than it needs to be. The town is blowing up. I don’t want to have to call for backup, they are needed somewhere else. Please calm down.”
Tony walked up and extended his hand to shake Matt’s, but Matt refused. “Please, Mr. James. We are on the same side.”
“Is she going to be okay?”
“It’s too early to tell, but she is in good hands. She was hit several times in the face and back of the head and we believe she fell and hit her head on something. It looks like a bad head injury.”
“But she’s going to be all right?”
“I’m not a doctor. Please calm down. We’ll talk and give them a chance to work on her and then we will go talk to the doctors.”
“Did they catch the bastard?”
“Sir, they haven’t caught him yet but they are pretty sure who did it. Can we go sit down? I need you to be calm.”
“I’m fine right here. Okay, I’ll bite. What happened?”
“Your daughter left The New Warehouse with two men but refused to get in their car. When she refused, they beat her up.”
“What? She wasn’t at a bar. She went to the movies and then was going to her friend Ashley’s house.”
“Sir. I know this is hard, but trust me, she was at the bar. I just came from there and the ambulance brought her from there.”
“She was raped in the parking lot. No one stopped the guy?”
“Yes, someone did scare them away. But the assailant was armed and shot at them.”
“I thought the big clubs like The New Warehouse had gun detectors, how did he have a gun if they just left the bar?”
“Actually that is a good question, Mr. James, but I don’t know the answer to that, right now. But I will ask it down at the station.”
“So he forced her out of the bar and no one did anything to stop him and then he just took her outside and raped her.”
“According to her friend Ashley and the doorman, she went outside to smoke a joint with this guy she was dancing with and his friend.”
“So she went outside with him but wouldn’t leave.”
“That is what we believe happened. It just happened a little while ago. There are many officers down at the club trying to find out exactly what happened.”
“So she’s not awake?”
“Apparently, she fell while she was getting away from them and hit her head hard. Plus, being a traumatic experience she may have gone into shock. You will have to find that out from the doctor.”
“Is that all, Officer? I need to get inside.”
“Okay. I think you calmed down enough. I know it’s difficult. There’s a lot going on right now. I’m sure detectives will be down to talk with you soon. But what you don’t understand is that this city may well be at war.”
“What the hell are you talking about?”
“I really don’t know yet. Some gangsters from Detroit are tearing up the town trying to make an example out of a local drug dealer. Besides your daughter, a man was killed in an alley and there has been an apartment shot up. It’s too early to tell but there’s a good chance that it is all related.”
“I really don’t know what this all of this has to do with my Britney, but right now she is all I care about.”
“Well, let’s go see if we can find anything out then.”
Rick Perry pulled up in front of Doug’s bar and parked. He walked down the alley toward the crime scene. Being a few blocks from the station, just about everyone from the station came over to help look for clues. Rick spied Captain Carl Ellis and walked over to him.
“So someone finally closed White Wesley’s trap for him?”
“Rick,” Captain Ellis said in a quiet voice. “There are witnesses that said you were talking to him in this same alley about three or four hours ago. In fact, someone said you had him against the wall roughing him up.”
Rick looked away as the Captain stopped speaking. He thought for several seconds then looked Ellis right in the eyes. “Okay. He’s the source that told me that Washington was after Jones.”
“My God, Rick. You didn’t force him to talk right out here where everyone could see?”
“Can we keep this between us? C’mon, Cap, we’re all family on the department.”
“So we can pretty much assume that Washington’s men killed him.”
“Yeah, I guess he’s wanting to scare the people in the neighborhood. Show them what will happen to them if they talk.”
“Yeah, carving ‘snitch’ in his chest will definitely shut people up around here. No one will tell us anything about Washington now.”
“You think he was alive when they put that on his chest?”
“You know he was. These guys live to inflict pain. They are professional killers.”
“All hell is breaking loose, Rick. Washington’s men shot up Jones’ apartment. They made a real mess of the building. They are definitely trying to get their point across… and not just to Jones, but to everyone else…and … probably us.”
“You think they are trying to intimidate us?”
“John Ross came across Washington and a couple of his cronies at AJ’s tonight. One of them, I think it was Mardy, put on a little show trying to scare Ross. He said if Ross gets in their way, he’d get chopped up.”
“They think they own this town.”
“That’s what he told Ross. He told Ross that this may be his hometown but it’s his, as in Mardy’s, money town. He had one of those ‘munnington’ tattoos that we’ve seen drug runners from Detroit with before.”
“So, Cap. Let me ask you this.” Perry paused for a moment. “Does this end tonight?”
“I highly doubt it. Not as long as Jones is alive. We’re scouring the town looking for him to talk about what’s going on but we can’t find him.”
“So you think we are at war?”
“I think if you’d ask Wesley or the poor girl that got raped, they’d certainly tell you ‘yes.’”
Donte Carter’s cell phone jolted him out of bed. He wiped his eyes and looked at the Caller ID to see it was Terrell Jones.
“Dude? It’s 2 A.M.! What the hell?” Donte asked half-sleepily and half-angry.
“They shot my crib up! They shot my crib up?” Terrell blurted excitedly.
“Whoa, bro! Slow down, let me wake up. Damn! Is this a nightmare…? Okay. Slower now, what’s going on?”
“I’m chillin’ at Naomi’s crib in Proctorville. My neighbors are blowin’ my phone up wantin’ to know if I’m okay. The Detroit bastards practically blew up my crib. They shot the hell out of it and destroyed practically everything in it.”
“Wow, Bro. You must of really pissed someone off.”
“That don’t give ‘em the right to shoot my shit up!”
“You’re messing with some serious bastards.”
“The cops are over there goin’ through all of my shit. The place is crawling with popo. I ain’t goin’ back. I’m crashing here for a while, Dude!”
“Bro, while you’re up I may as well, tell you the other news.”
“What’s that? They shoot up your ride?”
“Dude, Ashley called me and told me Brit got fucked up at The Club.”
“What do you mean fucked up? Drunk?”
“Naw, Bro. Got beat up. Bro, chill man. But I think they raped her.”
“What? I mean… what the fuck is goin’ on?”
“Them dudes from Detroit raped her.”
“For real, Dawg?”
“What dudes? Your dudes? The ones that shot up your crib?”
“For real, Bro,” Terrell said quietly, almost too embarrassed to admit it.
“Awwww, man. What she doin’ messed up in your shit?”
“I don’t know, Dawg. Don’t know how they know I know her.”
“You’re kidding me! Your fucked up shit got that girl hurt?”
“Yeah. I ain’t runnin’. I’m hiding out but Terrell be poppin’ tomorrow. I’ll square everything. They ain’t gettin’ away with hurtin’ my peeps.”
“Awwww, Dude. This shit gettin’ crazy. They rape her for real?”
“I’m blazin’ both guns tomorrow, Bro. They’ll wish they never fucked with Terrell Jones. Shootin’ my crib up is one thing, but they ain’t gonna fuck with my peeps.”
“Is she all right? Where’s she at?”
“St. Mary’s. She in a coma. She bad, Dawg. She real bad.”
“Awww fuck. I knew I should of went to the club tonight. Dammit!”
“I know, Bro. I’m sorry, Bro. I know you’re digging her. She’s fine. She’s a good girl. They’re messing with Terrell Jones when they mess with my peeps.”
“Just give this street crap a rest, Dude. Aw man. This stuff is getting out of hand. Dude, this is serious business. They shot your crib to pieces and messed up one of your friends. This is serious shit you’ve not only gotten yourself into, but now you got innocent people paying the price for your fuckups. What kind of guys are you fucking with?”
“I’ll make it right, Bro.”
“How do you make it right, Terrell? The girl is in a coma.”
“I don’t know, Dawg. I don’t know yet.”
“Damn! I gotta go to the hospital. I’m not going to be able to sleep. I got to go see what they did to her. You best straighten up, Terrell. You’re my bro but this is a serious fuckup.”
“I be at the club tomorrow. I’m gonna square things.”
“There’s some things you can’t fix, Terrell. You gotta grow up, Dawg. You just got to before you get someone killed.”
“I’m gonna even the score, Bro. I’m gonna even things up.”
Huntington had always been a peaceful town, the All-American city where natives planned on raising their families. Clouds have been moving over Huntington for a while. But tonight, they were storm clouds.
Chief Mike Beal knew a hurricane was coming to his town. A path of destruction was coming his way. Mother Nature was not coming to town though. This was definitely going to be a man-made disaster.
Detroit gangsters had unofficially declared war on Beal’s hometown. It was impractical to believe that this was all because of one petty drug dealer. The Detroit crew thought if they made a few statements then Huntington would actually be their Money Town forever. This was not about revenge on Terrell Jones; this was about Detroit gangsters trying to make Huntington their bitch.
Huntington Police Chief Mike Beal knew something though. He knew his department had its flaws. He had cheats, drunks, and outright clowns on his force. But, he knew most of his men were born in Huntington. They may hang out at convenience stores and eat free donuts and drink free coffee while trying to snag free tail, but they had hometown pride. These policemen may appear to simply be hall monitors but when the war begins, they will become soldiers. They will fight to the death to defend their citizens. Mike Beal just hoped that he had prepared them well enough to take on big city killers with perhaps superior weapons. Tonight was much more than three crimes, war could not be any more imminent if they had rolled a tank through the streets.
Beal figured Saturday would be the night. His men would be ready. The Mayor would be notified in the morning and The Governor would be notified as well. The National Guard would be ready to move in.
Chief Beal’s mind was already ahead of the game. He knew the media would be rolling into town with each development. He knew they would try to make this a racial battle. Black activists would move in to advance their agenda. The key challenge that faced Beal and The Mayor would be to try to keep color out of it. This was a battle of good vs. evil, not a battle between black and white.
The gangsters probably counted on dividing Huntington. Beal knew this was about drugs. It had been about drugs for a while but now it was becoming more. Beal thought of the Bruce Springsteen song “Badlands”. The lyrics sprang to his mind: “Poor man wants to be rich, rich man wants to be king, and a king ain’t satisfied until he rules everything.”
The drug dealers cared about money in the beginning. They had made Huntington their Money Town. Now, they yearned to be king of Money Town. The big city criminals thought they could bring the West Virginia hillbillies to their knees.
Mike Beal knew his men were going to surprise the thugs. They would show the slickers that they may be a little bit country but they were not yokels. Adrenalin was starting to race through his veins. He hoped he was wrong…but in his heart, he knew he was right this time.
The city was calming down now. The sun would soon rise. A new day would be dawning. Several stories would be told. One side would tell of three coincidental crimes and how the police failed to catch the offenders. Another side would spin how racial troubles had finally found Huntington. But the real story would be that good was preparing to protect itself against evil.
For on Saturday, in all reality, Mike Beal would be transformed from Police Chief of Huntington to Field General For All That Is Decent.
Matt James had a chair stationed right outside of Britney’s hospital room. They had given Britney a private room on the ICU floor. She was still in a coma with swelling around her brain. The hospital had moved Brenda into her room.
Brenda had to be sedated. She came out of her drug induced stupor but had gone into a state of shock when she was informed of the attack on Britney. She was close to Britney by being in the same room and the hospital staff could still monitor her recovery from her overdose.
Matt was going to take her home at some point today so she could get away from the stress and get the rest she needed. But right now, Brenda would not hear of it. She insisted on being close to her baby and Matt could understand; actually it made him feel good to see that Britney was still the most important thing in her mother’s life. If something would happen to Britney, Brenda probably would die of an overdose. It would send Brenda completely over the edge. If something happened to Britney, Matt would probably lose his mind.
It was now early Saturday morning around eight o’clock. Matt had finally dozed off and gotten his first few minutes of sleep in twenty-four hours. Weird dreams were swirling around in his head. Charles Bronson had arisen from the dead and he and Matt were walking through the ghettos of Detroit teaching drug dealers a lesson. ‘The Teacher” they called him.
A smallish nurse with curly brown hair stood in front of him and was trying to decide whether or not to wake him up. Matt opened his eyes on his own.
“Mr. James, there is a gentleman in the waiting room that wants to talk to you. Should I tell him you are sleeping and to come back?”
“No, I’ll go down and see what he wants. Probably another policeman or detective, I’ve talked to so many in the last few hours I feel like a criminal.”
“He doesn’t look like a policeman. He’s a little young, probably twentyish.”
“Probably a reporter, I’ve seen a couple of them already.”
Matt followed the nurse down the hall to an empty waiting room where he was soon looking at a young black man in green hospital scrubs.
“Sir, I know this awkward but my name is Donte Carter. I’m a very good friend of your daughter’s.”
Matt was very exhausted and was not in the mood to be judgmental. He was not going to be concerned if he turned out to be some drug dealing friend from her secret ‘double life.’ He was no doubt a well-wisher who cared enough to visit her in the hospital so he was not about to be rude.
“Donte, huh? I’m not going to ask how you know her but my name is Matt James.”
“Nice to meet you, Sir. This is kinda hard, because I don’t want you to take it wrong. I really like your daughter.”
Matt just looked at him and was wishing he would just spit out what was apparently so hard for him to say.
Donte paused for a moment and then continued, “I mean I really, really like Britney. I don’t take drugs… and I don’t know what you’ve heard…”
Matt noticed the scrubs and cut him off, “Do you work here?”
“No, Sir. I work at Cabell but I wanted to stop by and see how she is doing.”
“She’s not doing well at all, but she’s in the hands of some very good doctors and hopefully God himself is watching over her. The poor girl has been through so much that I don’t see how He couldn’t be.”
“Well, I just want you to know who I am and not to be mad at me. I was supposed to be at the club and was too tired to go. I could have kept this from happening.”
“I appreciate it but it’s not your fault.”
“Also, I don’t know if you know Terrell Jones but I’m a friend of his.”
Matt had heard the name Terrell Jones all morning and now it was all coming together. He was beginning to understand that Britney got hurt because of Terrell and maybe the young man in front of him. Donte looked like a nice kid to him but if he was involved with this drug dealer Terrell that he was hearing so much about, maybe his judgment was wrong. He walked away from Donte and was staring at the wall.
“Sir, I wouldn’t do anything to hurt her.”
“So you are a friend of the drug dealer that is causing this sort of war that’s going on?”
“I guess so. I’m sorry this happened and so is Terrell.”
Matt paused again and did not look at Donte. “So your friend is a drug dealer?”
“Yes, Sir. He is. But I’m not and Britney does not do drugs. She does smoke some pot though. But, we look after her and make sure she doesn’t get hurt. Usually. I dropped the ball this time.”
“Well, there is something I want from you and Terrell. In fact, after Terrell has gotten her involved, I expect it.” Matt still had his back turned to Donte.
“What is that, Sir?” Donte asked with a swallow.
Matt turned and looked him square in the eyes and said quietly but forcefully. “A gun.”
Mayor Tom Samples was flipping through the Saturday Morning Herald Dispatch as he discussed Friday night’s events with Chief Mike Beal. “Well, it looks like we’re a little lucky with the media. With everything happening so late last night, nothing made the paper this morning. I’ve managed to get the local radio and TV media to be relatively low key in today’s reporting. As far as the media knows all three incidents are being treated as separate events.”
Beal grabbed a section of the paper and remarked, “That will definitely make things easier. That will keep the climate cool for at least tonight.”
“Well, even tomorrow it should be calm. I’ve talked with several people at the HD, and it looks like the Wesley Parks murder will be front page. But, they do not know, or shouldn’t know, that he is a police informant unless their reporters were being nosey.”
“That’s a real possibility though because Hal Greer is buzzing. I’m sure somebody up there said something.”
“I don’t know. I think there are a lot of people that are too scared to talk after the graffiti they carved into Wesley. So the media will just have a headline story about an unsolved murder in Huntington. Though the snitch angle may make it into the story since it was carved in him.”
“How do you think they will cover the rape?”
“Well, the radio hasn’t mentioned it. I’ve been asked if it was connected somehow but I blew it off. On a side note, I’ve been trying to make it clear with the media that we do not need them speculating and getting everyone worked up because there really hasn’t been any connecting events.”
“Do you think they bought it?”
“It’s not like we are dealing with CNN or Fox, these guys around here aren’t that smart and they generally do what we want them to do.”
“I guess by itself, Jones’s house getting shot up isn’t a real big story.”
“I’ve been getting questioned about it, but it will probably be buried in the police blotter. Nothing really stands out and connects the incidents. I mean if anything happens tonight, the media may eventually make the connection but it should be calm tonight.”
“Good. We are partnering up all of the cops and of course everyone will be out. We are going to have extra coverage around Hal Greer and the downtown and college bar scene. We’re still looking for Jones. No one knows where he’s at.”
“As far as we know, he could be lying in a ditch somewhere or at the bottom of the river and everyone’s gone back home and forgotten it.” The Mayor said, wishing it could be that easy.
“Not likely. They want to use him to put a scare into Huntington. If they do get him, they’ll parade his body through the street.”
“Think he’ll show up?”
“If he’s smart he’ll take a vacation but I wouldn’t count on it.”
“What kind of backing does he have? I mean do you think he can handle a war with them?”
“Not likely. We don’t know a lot about him or his connections. But Detroit’s got a lot of firepower; he’d have to do some heavy recruiting to go toe to toe with Deandre Washington’s gang. As far as we are aware, he’s not a killer. He’d be waging a war with experienced killers. Plus, it will be at easier for them to find him than for him to find them. These Detroit guys have girls all over town that hide them out. They could be staying anywhere. For that matter, they have the money and can be staying at any hotel within fifty miles of here and just drive back and forth.”
“Well, it sounds like we are ready. As long as your boys are prepared and the city is unaware and not ready to panic, all we can do is wait and see what happens.”
“Yep. All we can do is hurry up and wait… and pray.”
As they spoke, a van loaded with AK47 assault rifles, Mac 9’s, Mac 10’s, and sawed off shotguns was on its way down 23 South. Two white Detroit natives had smuggled the weapons from Windsor, Ontario and were now in Waverly, Ohio which is roughly 80 minutes from Huntington.
The driver was a fifty year-old white man in a suit and glasses. His gray haired wife was riding next to him. They were careful to obey all the traffic laws. They looked like a conservative happy couple out for a casual Saturday afternoon drive.
Too many drug runners from Columbus and Detroit had been pulled over by Ohio police lately for drug violations and were being arrested for possession of drugs or firearms. Police were well aware of the pipeline linking the big cities with the smaller southern cities and towns. Mike Johnson was going to be well paid for his delivery. But if he was caught, he would go to jail if he was lucky. If not, Deandre Washington would kill him and his wife… and kill them slowly.
Matt James made sure Brenda was comfortable. Brenda had come home to rest further. She hated to leave her daughter’s side but she needed to come home and get some quality rest. There had not been any change in Britney’s condition.
Matt was going to return to the hospital soon. He had called in to his second job and informed them he would not be at work this weekend. Although he did not tell them, he was sure he was going to quit Sav-A-Lot all together. He told Brenda he would be back soon. He hated to leave her because she was terribly distressed over the attack on her only child. Matt made an excuse to leave that he was doing a few important errands. In all reality, he was. It would be very difficult to avenge the attack on Britney without a gun, so therefore the errand of meeting Terrell Jones and receiving a gun was very important.
He did not tell Brenda about his intentions although he figured she may have been willing to help him. Her only worry would have been that he would get arrested or killed. Matt was not sure what his ultimate plan would be but he knew even the simplest of plans required a gun. This gun was a free gift courtesy of Terrell’s conscience. Donte was against it but Terrell was for anything that could possibly get the Detroit gangsters off of his back. Though, Terrell pretty much figured that when he gave Matt the gun it would be the first and last time he would ever see Britney’s father. He figured the fool did not have a chance in hell of surviving an attack against Deandre’s soldiers.
The meeting was quick and simple. Terrell wished Matt luck and they quickly parted. Matt stopped off at a few places and did some actual errands. He bought a few things they needed at Foodland and paid a few bills. His curiosity got the best of him and made a quick trip to St. Mary’s where he had found that his daughter’s condition had not changed. He then went on his way back to Brenda. They would eat out and spend the rest of the evening at St. Mary’s. Matt was not sure when he would start his attack but he was hoping to spend time with his daughter and see her awake one more time.
Matt was ready to die. He had good life insurance and knew that Brenda and Britney would be taken care of if something happened to him. He would love to see his daughter get married and have grandchildren but there was a huge possibility that he may have to bury her in the next few days. He was sick of traveling and he wasn’t making Brenda happy anymore. A change may very well do her good and she may find someone that would make her happy if Matt should die. Matt James felt death coming closer. In fact, he could almost feel the Grim Reaper breathing on his back.
Matt’s ambitions were always to go out in a blaze of glory. He did not care if he died as long as he did what Iron Maiden said in their song from Piece of Mind and that was “Die With Your Boots On.” Because after all, as Bruce Dickinson wailed, “If you’re gonna die, you’re gonna die!”
Rudyard Kipling’s famous quote came to his mind:
“If ever stranded on Afghan plains, and the Afghan women come to cut up your remains, roll to your rifle and blow out your brains, and go to God like a soldier.”
Matt pulled into his driveway with his mind bouncing back and forth from his daughter to his plot for revenge. He walked into the living room. Stonesy was back! Brenda was sitting in the chair and her head was practically lying on her lap. He did not have time for this. Not now!
He picked her head up carefully and could tell she was breathing. Not well, but still breathing. He tried unsuccessfully to wake her. Next to her was a can of Mountain Dew and a bunch of white pills wrapped in cellophane. He looked at the pills and could tell they were somas. Soma was a powerful muscle relaxer. He was not sure where they came from but, frankly, he did not care at the moment.
He sat down across from her and wondered what to do. He was not ready to go through this again. Too much was going on. He just sat there looking at her. Finally, she showed signs of coming to, she started making noises and then was looking around with a bewildered look on her face.
She was shaking like she was having seizures. She looked at Matt then tried to pick up the can of Mountain Dew. She was shaking so much that she could barely hang on to the can. She tried unsuccessfully several times to hit her mouth with the can and missed. She eventually spilled the yellow soda pop down the front of her shirt. She tried to place the can on the end table beside her but was shaking so hard that she could not get the can to land without spilling it. After a minute, the can finally landed safely on the table.
Then, without warning, her head went straight back and she was asleep again. Matt quickly picked up his phone and called 911. After the call, he sat there watching her and making sure she kept breathing. He knew the stress of Britney’s attack was too much for her to handle. He knew she needed to go into rehab but with Britney already in the hospital, he knew Brenda would not stand for her daughter to be by herself. But Brenda was reaching the final and most deadly stage of drug abuse. With his eyes wide open to the world suddenly, he could finally see that without professional help she would soon die.
There was a knock on the door. Two paramedics were standing on his doorstep.
“Is there a problem here?” asked a tall skinny EMT with reddish hair and glasses.
“Yes, my wife overdosed. I think on somas.” He grabbed a bag of white pills and handed them to the EMT.
The EMT examined the pills then shook his head. “I’m so tired of these pillheads. You know, sometimes, I wish they would just shoot themselves.”
Matt did not know what to say. He watched as two police officers walked inside the door. One was a K9 cop and was medium built with short hair. A young, handsome black haired cop was standing behind him. Matt would love nothing more than to swing around and catch the big mouthed EMT with a nice left uppercut. Even though the punk was not worth getting arrested over, punching the smart mouthed EMT would reduce the stress and frustration that was overflowing in Matt James.
The black haired cop, Derek Fuller, asked what his name was. After Matt responded, the cop asked, “Are you Britney James’ dad?”
“Yes, I am.”
“I’m very sorry about what happened last night. How is she doing?”
“Not good, not good at all. It’s hard on Brenda. I guess she took these pills trying to relax with all that’s going on. I don’t understand everything that is going on really. My life and my family’s life are all a mess. My wife just got out of the hospital for overdosing.”
“Well, I’ll tell you what. This woman is a mess. I see this stuff all of the time. If you don’t get down there and get her in rehab, she is going to die,” the paramedic stated.
“I don’t know anymore. So much is going on,” Matt responded.
“Well, you better get ready to make funeral arrangements. This woman is going to keep going to do this until she kills herself. It doesn’t matter if she’s doing it on purpose or it’s all accidental, anyway it goes, this woman is going to die soon if nothing is done about this.” The paramedic continued to work on making sure that Brenda did not die at the moment.
Matt could not take any more of this; he was just not in the mood for this now. He walked outside while they worked on Brenda. He loved his wife very much but he was so upset with her for overdosing at a time when he and her both needed to be at their daughter’s side. Families needed to come together in crisis situations. Matt did not want to deal with the paramedic any more and he really did not even want to deal with Brenda’s drug addiction right now. He walked outside. Derek followed him.
“That EMT’s a real passionate guy,” Derek remarked grinning. Then he said seriously, “I hope everything works out with Britney. We just had a briefing and we are doing everything possible to find out who did it. We will catch them.”
“Thanks. Be careful tonight. I hear it may get ugly.”
“Thanks, Mr. James. Good luck with your family.”
After they left, Matt got ready to follow them. He looked at the gun and for a brief moment, he considered placing it to his head and pulling the trigger. But his family needed him, so he placed the gun under the driver’s seat and headed toward St. Mary’s.
Detective Rick Perry pulled into The New Warehouse parking lot at about 2 PM on Saturday afternoon. There had been police back at the parking lot checking for clues in the daylight that may have been missed in the darkness after the attack occurred. He was meeting the owner, Keith Scott.
Perry walked into the closed bar and sat at a table talking to the owner and his manager Vince Lloyd. “So, here’s what we’ve determined. The pieces are coming together. The cameras show Britney leaving with what appears to be Detroit gangsters Mardy and Remy. The view isn’t clear enough to make a positive ID on them but the doorman seen pictures of them and says it was them.” Rick paused for a moment as Keith and Vince nodded their heads to show they agreed.
“We have witnesses that were sitting in a car that say the three walked by them. Then, apparently, they go to the back of the lot and rape her. Then, someone asks what they are doing and one of them fires shots.” Again, Keith and Scott nodded in agreement.
“Okay, here’s the part I’m having problems with. You guys say you have gun detectors and they did not go off. Far as we can tell, Mardy and Remy did not stop at a car after they left your club. So as you can probably guess, my question is where did the gun come from?’
Vince spoke up, “The doorman said they definitely came through the front door and were scanned. We tested the scanner, so the only thing I can guess is they must of went to the car and got a gun.”
Rick shook his head in a negative manner and deducted, “No, I don’t see that happening. I don’t see them walking out to the car first then taking her and rap-. No, I’m not buying it. He had the gun when they left the bar. He had to. Then he raped her, pulled his pants up and then pulled his gun out.”
“He couldn’t have had the gun in the bar,” Keith protested. Someone would have had to bring it in. Everyone including the employees enters through the front door and is scanned. The scanners do work.”
Rick still shook his head, “I just don’t see the rapist making a move on the girl and saying – don’t move – stay right there while I get my gun so I can shoot somebody if they interrupt. In fact, it wouldn’t surprise me if they didn’t have a gun on her in the parking lot to get her to the car or possibly had it inside the bar to get her outside.”
“Impossible,” Vince said, shaking his head.
Rick sputtered, “What do you mean impossible? Anything’s possible when you have a bar full of drunk college kids. I don’t see why she would have left the bar with them otherwise. That’s why they struggled and they raped her there. She put up a fight. Otherwise, they leave and dump her dead body somewhere later. She did not leave on her own. Her friend even says she did not she her talking to them.”
“She was on the dance floor with one of ‘em and they were dancing close, we have witnesses that verify that.” Vince poked in.
“Well, I guess the gun will remain a mystery. No point squabbling anymore. Okay, the main concern is the bar going to be safe tonight?” Rick asked.
“Of course,” Vince answered. “The scanners are working. We have extra security. We aren’t going to let those guys in and they wouldn’t be that ignorant to return.”
Rick agreed. “Well, we will have regular patrols driving through the lot. Let us know of anything that doesn’t seem right no matter how small the detail.”
Vince took a drink of beer and asked, “So do you really think anything else is going to happen tonight?”
“Maybe not, but we have to be prepared like it is. They made their point so they may lay low figuring we are going to be ready for them. But we have to act like something is going down. There’s not any chatter going around at all after an informant got killed. We will be out every where tonight so there won’t be any surprises. Plus, no one has seen the guy they were after so he may have gotten out of town. At least we can hope so, anyway. We have DEA and FBI in town as well so it’d be awful ballsy to march right in and slap us in the face.”
Tina Rollins was very excited. Friday night the club was hopping and she made $160 in tips. Not bad money for doing something you like to do. Waitressing may not be the best job around but she loved the atmosphere at The New Warehouse. With tonight being Saturday, she could count on another $150-200.
Plus, Deandre Washington was in town. She was putting makeup on getting ready for his visit. The favor she did for him last night earned her a few pills and he said he had another job for her tonight. There was a knock on her door. She practically ran to answer it, knowing good and well who was there.
“Hey Baby,” Deandre Washington grinned.
“Come in, Deandre”, Tina cooed and reached up and kissed him. “How you doin’, Baby?”
“Having a great weekend, Baby. Always great to be in Huntington.”
Tina was not bad looking but she was not a queen either. Unless Deandre was in town but that was not very often. Deandre made her feel like a queen. He was the hottest and coolest man she had ever seen. Deandre knew how to please a woman. Deandre also knew the first step to pleasing Tina Rollins involved a plate, a straw, and some pills. He smiled at her as he crumbled an oxycotin 30 mg onto a plate and divided it into lines.
Tina was not quite sure which was making her hotter at the moment, a red hot Deandre Washington ready to give her his undivided attention and more, or the thought of the oxycotin shooting up into the straw and into her soul. It had been a while since she had been alone with Deandre and she could not wait for him to slide his way into her, but there was not any way she was going to skip the oxies she had earned for her work the night before. Plus, Deandre would leave her a few pills for the dirty deeds she would perform for him at the club tonight.
“Gonna be a poppin’ night at the club tonight, Baby. I’m gonna make sure you are in a very good mood,” Deandre smiled and gave her his sexy, smoldering look that just about caused her to wet herself. “Gonna be a night to remember. No one gonna forget tonight for a long time.”
“You gonna be at the club?”
“No, I can’t. Believe me, I’d love to but I got a thing goin’ on tonight.”
Tina came and sat on his lap. She had wanted to kiss him since he knocked on the door. Actually, she had wanted to kiss him since the last time they quit kissing and that was sometime last year.
Being a suave, cool gangster definitely had its advantages. Always having a pocketful of pills did not hurt either. He had finer women than Tina, but she always made things exciting. She gave the word ‘freak’ new meaning. Her face was passable though the farther you walked away the more you appreciated it. Makeup definitely helped her look better but sometimes she got a little carried away and caked it on so thick that she looked like a doll that a four year old with a jar of makeup and too much sugar had gotten a hold of and turned into a horrifying example of beauty products gone wild. Normally a girl like her would be more business than pleasure, but Tina had a spark that made her pleasurable and memorable.
She sat on his lap, smooching him all over. He grabbed on to her nice big booty. She was white, but he could swear she had some black in her because she had an ass that usually came on black women. To truly appreciate her big bottom took two hands. Kind of like a Whopper, it took two hands on these buns to get the full effect.
Yes, there are several perks to being a drug dealer and this indeed was one of them. True, drug dealers may not have an insurance plan but having sex anytime you want it will keep you healthy. At least mentally healthy and girls like Tina provided a hell of a workout plan.
Perhaps Tina liked to tease herself first, because although kissing and feeling Deandre got her worked up and wet, she still stopped in the middle of foreplay for a pharmaceutical break. She stayed on his lap while he fondled her breast but she picked up the plate with the crushed oxie and held it over Deandre’s shoulder. He removed her shirt and started sucking and kissing her nipples while she leaned over his shoulder and started snorting down the crumpled pills.
The pills, of course, would take a few moments to work their magic but the suckling of her breast had her engine revving now. When the pills kicked in, she would be racing like a hell bent Ferrari. Tina did not have any brakes once the pedal went to the floor. Just when a man thought she was at peak speed, she would find another way to accelerate and kick it up to a speed that would make any radar gun explode. Deandre smiled to himself and thought, “No trip to Money Town is complete without a trip to Tina’s.” Yes, Tina could definitely take Deandre places that his Cadillac Escalade could never go.
Tina could never get enough of Deandre’s wicked physique or enough of his wicked pills, so Deandre decided to give her a special gift for what she would do for him later tonight. Lying down on her sofa, Deandre took off his shirt and crumbled up another oxie 30 and spread it across his chiseled chest. Buffed up pecs in her mouth and the sparkly magic of freshly crushed oxies up her nose sent Tina to a place where she had sent many men.
It would take about twenty minutes for the oxies to kick in and by that time Deandre would already have her over the speed limit. After she inhaled the pill dust and licked up the remnants from his chest, she turned around to pleasure his lower body. He positioned her with her head down on him and her ass up in the air. Reaching back he smacked her ass while she pleasured him. Her body shook and her mouth went down even farther with each whack. With each smack, she made a groaning noise that was first surprise, then painful reaction, and finally enjoyment. Deandre thought, “This girl is a trip. Man, I love Money Town!”
Then, Tina brought her head up and stood up. She walked into the next room and came back with a hairbrush. “This girl is trippin’” Deandre thought. She positioned herself over Deandre’s lap.
Deandre brought the paddle down with a loud whack! Tina’s legs started twitching uncontrollably. She craved the sting. She loved the thunder. She loved being at Deandre’s mercy. He was a real man. Everyone else in Huntington was a boy as far as she was concerned.
Whack! Fire shot up through Tina’s nerves and ignited her soul. Her ass was on fire and she did not want the flames extinguished. Whack! Deandre was starting to get into it. It was turning him on to see her so turned on. He had many women that would give anything to be with him but none was like this girl. This girl was truly a freak.
Deandre stung that ass about ten more times. Her ass was throbbing and had turned a bright shade of red. Tina’s ass was not the only part of her that was hot. Her pussy was wet and screaming for attention. She was wanting Deandre and she was wanting him right then.
Tina climbed up and mounted him. Tina was literally going for a ride when the pills kicked and took the metal to the pedal. It was a wild bumpy ride down a dirt road but it was just the thrill ride she was craving. “Hell,” she thought, “this wasn’t just a ride. This was a rollercoaster ride!” Up and down she went. The side to side turns were the thrill ride she needed. This may last to the next time Deandre found himself in Huntington.
Deandre Washington was proud that he kept himself in shape. In fact, it was his business to keep himself in shape. Being in shape could mean the difference between life and death, definitely somebody else’s life and death and maybe ultimately his own. But in shape Deandre Washington definitely was. Tina’s screams over the next hour would attest to that. The gangster got his workout and the waitress got her workout as well. In fact, she was not quite sure if her legs would recover in time to go up and down the steps at The New Warehouse. In fact, she was not even sure they could carry her to her bathroom right now.
She hated to see the thug leave. He made parting less painful with a handful of painkillers and of course, a bag containing her assignment for the evening.
Matt James finally decided that he was going to do what he had to do. His brother Mark had called him to tell him he was on his way from Wytheville, Virginia to visit Britney in the hospital. Mark was going to be the second signature on the document that would have Brenda James admitted into the hospital for thirty days to deal with her drug addiction. Matt had spoken to doctors at St. Marys and members of the psych unit and due to Britney’s incident they were pulling strings so that Brenda could get treatment and still be close to her daughter.
Matt could not afford anymore distractions. Britney’s life was in danger and he could not be worried about Brenda while he was at the hospital with Britney. Plus, it was becoming apparent that Brenda may die herself. If anything tragic happened to Brit, then Brenda may indeed take her own life.
Matt decided to quit avoiding issues the way he has been doing the last few years of his life. With a few phone calls, he quit his second job and took a week’s vacation from his primary job. He also called to inform Brenda’s family about Brit and Brendy’s conditions and let them know that while Britney was in the hospital Brenda would be, too.
All three of their lives were in danger. His daughter was clinging to a thread in intensive care. The swelling still had not gone down in her brain. Brenda’s addiction and impending depression were both life threatening. Matt James was very serious in avenging his daughter’s rape. Matt was not a warrior. Any action he would take against experienced big city killers would more than likely result in his death. Sure, he had been in fist fights as a youth and in bar fights while in college but he would not last long in a street fight with thugs who have killed with their bare hands. His experience as a deer hunter would not make him the favorite in a shootout with Deandre Washington’s soldiers.
Donte Carter was surprised to see Terrell Jones at his door. “I thought you were laying low?”
“Hell na, Dawg. It’s Saturday night. I gotta make paper to get my crib back together. I just went back there. It looks like a huge piece of Swiss cheese. They even killed my fish, the bastards!”
“You better watch out or you’re gonna be a big piece of Swiss cheese. These fuckers aren’t playing! Don’t you get it?”
“I’ve got a rep, Dawg. I gotta be seen. If everyone thinks I’m hiding it kills my rep! You forgetting due, I’m Terrell Jones, one of the baddest cats in town. You might be willing to forgive and forget, but I ain’t. I can’t. I just can’t.”
Donte shook his head a little and looked the other way.
Terrell reached out and grabbed him and turned his head back so they were looking each other in the eyes. “Dawg, don’t tell me you don’t want to fuck somebody up for what they did to Brit?”
Donte turned his head again. “I don’t know, Terrell. I just don’t know. I’m so confused.”
“What the hell you confused about, Dude?”
“Yeah, I’m pissed.” He paused. “I’m real pissed. But what’s it gonna prove? It ain’t gonna help Brit. We could kill all of them dudes but she’d still be in a coma. I seen her today, Dude.” Tears started welling up in his eyes. He paused, and then got angry. “You didn’t see her! I did! Don’t talk to me about revenge or getting even. I close my eyes and all I see is her lying in that bed with tubes and wires…”
“Bro, I didn’t mean to get you upset. But we have to do this. It’s bigger than us. This is our home, Dawg. They shot up my shit, raped your girl, I can’t stand by and watch them fuck up my friends and home. This is our home, Bro. The only home we’ve ever known. I was born on these streets of Huntington and I’m ready to die on ‘em, if it means protecting my home.”
Donte paused. “Dude, I’ve got things that I’ve worked hard on, I can’t just fuck ‘em up.”
“What are they gonna mean without your home? Bro, I know I piss people off but they couldn’t be mad enough at me to want to go to war. There’s more at stake. They want the town and everything in it. The drug business, the girls. They want it all. They ain’t getting my hometown, Dawg. They call it Munnington and Money Town. This ain’t Money Town, Dawg. This ain’t Money Town. This is Huntington. This ain’t the Money Town. It’s our home town.”
Donte started to calm down. He wiped the tears out of his eyes that formed when he thought about Britney in the hospital bed.
Terrell continued, “Bro, it’s more than about my rep or my business or even my damn fish tank. It’s even more than about Brit. These dudes ain’t no good, Bro. They’re no damn good. I want ‘em out of my town, Bro. Out of my town. So they can’t hurt my mom or your mom, or no one else we love. They ain’t ever gonna let this end unless we run ‘em back up to Detroit. It’s the only way it ends. It’s the only way it ends, Bro.”
Donte just looked at the ground. Terrell started to walk away. “Just let me know if you change your mind. I need you. Huntington needs you.”
“Everything’s crazy. Just crazy. The look in your eyes, the look in Brit’s eyes. That old dude is willing to die.”
“The old dude gets it, Bro. He gets it. He knows when they raped Brit, they declared war on Huntington. He knows he’s dead. He don’t even wanna live after what they’ve done. He’s gonna die and he knows it. He has to because that’s the way it is. I had to show that old dude how to load and shoot that gun. He points that thing at Deandre’s dude and they’ll cut him up so deep… He can’t win and he knows it. He’s just one dumbass with a gun. But he gets it. He knows it ain’t gonna help Brit. But he ain’t gonna stand by and let them take his town. I may die too but it’s the only way they take my town.”
“I don’t want to die, Terrell. It shouldn’t have to be this way.”
“I don’t wanna die, Bro. But I’m Terrell Jones, I gotta fight. It’s who I am. I felt like a wuss laying low today. I’m being seen tonight. I’m a man of the spotlight not shadows. I’m motherfucking Terrell Jones. To take that from me, they’ll have to kill me. My peeps gonna see me, Dag. I’m gonna run through the club tonight. Terrell Jones ain’t hiding anymore.”
“You’re crazy. Do you even have any type of game plan?”
“I am the game, Bro. I am the game. I got some boys rounded up. Security is gonna be heavy. Cops will be everywhere. We won’t get guns in the club. We’ll have a couple of guys with the guns in the parking lot. I don’t know if any of Deandre’s clowns will be there but if we face ‘em in the club, it will be hand to hand. Then, if it carries over into the parking lot, it’s gonna be a shoot out. A war really… a fucking war.”
“So we are going into the club to fist fight or are we just leading them into the parking lot?”
“We are going into the club to let them know we are here. We are here, it’s our home town, and we are gonna be here. We ain’t leaving. If they don’t like that then we will settle it anyway we have to. Let it be war, Dawg. It don’t matter. Let it be war but we ain’t running and we ain’t hiding.”
Donte just looked at him for a minute. Terrell put his hands on his best friend’s shoulders. “Dawg. I DO need you. But, you do what you gotta do. I don’t want to die and I know you gotta lot to live for. It’s your call, but I DO need you.”
Chief Mike Beal stood in front of his men for one last pep talk before their shift began:
“Men, I’m praying it’s business as usual tonight. We are all praying that the night ends as peaceful as it begins. But, if it doesn’t…God will be with all of you tonight. And as The Huntington Police Department is one big family, you will not be alone. God will be riding with you and your brother will have your back.
“We may be blowing this all out of proportion, but my gut tells me we will be thankful we were prepared.”
“So you think we are going to war?” Someone yelled from the back.
“We are prepared to go to war. I pray we don’t have to. These Detroit gangsters have been bringing this on for years. Little by little. They have the block but that’s not enough. Now they want the university and downtown. Well, I was born in Huntington. Most of you were too. I’m not giving them another inch of my town. I know you guys won’t either.
Most of you guys have children or grandchildren. The ones that don’t have little brothers and sisters. This is their town too. We have to make it safe for them to go to school, or to the playground, or anywhere they want to go. We have to make sure what happened to Britney James doesn’t happen to our daughters or our sisters. We have to make sure our sons or brothers can play basketball on any court in town without having drugs shoved in their faces or even worse…guns! We want Detroit inner city problems to stay in Detroit! This is our town1 A God fearing, hard working town to raise your family in. Safe schools, safe streets… We are going to keep it that way. Think of that tonight if things get ugly. Hopefully it won’t, but whatever happens, be safe and take care of each other. May God ride with all of you tonight.”
Patrick Tyler was riding with John Ross tonight. The Chief had partnered inexperienced officers up with experienced officers. Tyler was a fresh face rookie with a buzz cut. He was about the same size as Ross. In fact he resembled a younger John Ross.
Tyler was nervous. He enjoyed being a cop but he liked throwing his weight around and being chased by girls who liked men in uniform. He did not become a police officer to fight a war. He would have joined the Army and seen the world if that was his goal.
Ross drove and pulled the car out of the station’s parking lot. Patrick Tyler looked at the older cop and asked, “So he’s just getting carried away, huh? All this talk of war? Just pep talk, huh?”
“Well, Pat, let me put it like this. It’s better to be prepared for a war and nothing happen and everyone goes home safe and well than to not be prepared and get ambushed. Chief Beal just wants everyone to see their families tomorrow.”
“So you don’t think anything will happen?”
“No, I don’t think anything will happen. I KNOW something’s going to happen tonight.”
“Why do you say that?”
“Because I’ve been a cop for way too long. I know the streets. This might not be an urban jungle but it’s got its vibe. And something is just not right with the vibe tonight.”
“What is that supposed to mean?”
Ross smiled at the rookie. He paused just to make the kid nervous. Then, he looked across the street, then he turned and looked the young officer in the eyes and said, “It means keep your eyes open and your hand on your gun.”
Tina Rollins was ready for work. She was looking forward to Saturday night at the New Warehouse. She was happy. Deandre Washington wore her out. He gave her a sore ass, as well as other sore body parts but he gave her something to ease the pain. She had another little favor to do for him tonight and who knows? Maybe he will pay her a late night visit tonight for an encore performance. She had that to look forward to and of course, she had the memories of earlier in the afternoon.
She parked her car right in front of the back door of The New Warehouse. She moved the bag Deandre had given her to the front and put it under the seat. Then, she smacked her own ass to feel if Andre’s hand prints still emitted pain. She smiled as she relished the sting. Deandre Washington sure knew how to stay on a woman’s mind, Tina thought as she walked around the front to walk through the metal detectors like everyone else who entered the bar tonight would.
Deandre Washington sat at a desk at his ‘command center’ outside of Huntington city limits in Wayne, West Virginia. Deidre, another one of Deandre’s women, was nice enough or addicted enough to provide an office in her house for Deandre. Deidre, in her late thirties, was older than most of Deandre’s admirers, but like the others she was a big fan of pain pills.
Deandre looked at Roscoe and said with a smile and laugh usually reserved for mad scientists who plot to take over the world in movies and cartoons, “The mission is underway, Roscoe. I am the Puppet Master! Tonight Huntington will dance at my commands!”
Roscoe smiled and declared, “You’re brilliant, Dawg. Fucking brilliant.”
“The people are scared and afraid to snitch, thanks to our artwork on White Wesley. The competition is going to hightail it out of town after what we’ve done to Terrell’s friend, his apartment, and hopefully him after tonight. Which even if we don’t get him, it’s all good. Because all of the other dealers will see we scared the great Terrell out of town. They will bow down to us as well. The cops will learn to look the other way as well.”
“You’ll be the King of Huntington.”
“It’s all about respect. We’ll have everyone’s after tonight. A lil’ bitch like Terrell makes other bitches think they can do what he does and that’s cut in on our trade. A snitch like White Wesley makes everyone think they can run their mouths. And the police just need a good bitchslapping every now and then so they go back to writing speeding tickets and picking up fat chicks and leave us alone. They need to worry about all of their paternity lawsuits and child support payments for their mistresses and leave business to us.”
“Well said, Dawg.”
“Every now and then, po-po think they run this town and we have to show them who really runs it. There’s too much money in this town. We are just taking it up to where it is needed and that’s Detroit. These fat cats around here don’t know how lucky they have it. They get their easy money and line up at Best Buy to buy their new toys the day they come out. We are just redistributing the money. This is socialism in action, Roscoe. Obama would make me a cabinet member if he could see this.”
“Robin Hood with a real product.”
“That’s right, Roscoe. We ain’t stealing from them. We are providing a product and a service. They get drugs and we take their money and give it to Detroit so it can be redistributed up there. These people got too much money if they can afford these expensive pills everyday so we sell to the rich and we take it up to Detroit where the economy is bad. There’s your motherfucking stimulus, Bitch. Take from the overpaid, overindulging hillbillies and take it up and insert it in Detroit’s sluggish economy.”
“Motherfucking Robin Hood or Karl Marx, haha!”
“Damn straight, Roscoe. Damn straight. These hillbillies need us city boys to give ‘em what they need. Or want. And they all want pills. After they want them for a while, then they really do need them. Their want becomes a need.”
“You oughta teach a motherfucking economics class.”
“Nope, I’m too important as CEO of Deandre Washington Enterprises. Supply and demand, Roscoe. We put the comp out and it’s all us. There’s enough money in this town to make us all millionaires and when we’re done with this town, there’s plenty more little towns around. We can even franchise out my business model. Instead of the golden arches, we’ll have golden revolvers.” Deandre laughed uncontrollably.
“We’ll sell them lil’ happy meals. A rock, a pill, Mad Dog 50/50 for a drink and a little roach clip, chore boy, or crack pipe as a toy.”
“You got it, Roscoe. You got it. All right, down to business. Hopefully wave one is effective tonight.”
“I thought last night was wave one.”
“That was more like a prelude to war. Tonight is a declaration. Hopefully we can wrap it up in one night, but hey, if we don’t, we’ll keep hammering away into they give in. This town is all talk. They’ll cry to the Governor but they won’t fight back. Bitches like Terrell will take off running and the po-po will cave. Or just look the other way. If we let them keep their convenience store clerk mistresses, then they will look the other way.”
Roscoe laughed and Deandre continued, “See what you have to understand about the Huntington Police Department, Roscoe. Is that most of these guys become cops for power and pussy, the two ‘p’s. Most of these guys are pussies themselves. They’re little small guys who got pushed around in high school. So they think they can put on a badge and become someone important. Then they can bust the bully who beat their ass in high school or at the very least, give him a speeding ticket. Then, there’s all kind of pussy that wants these cops. These guys were virgins in high school. Look at these guys. None of ‘em can go hand to hand with us. Hell, the only way they can take us down in a gun fight is if they get first draw.”
“They are some small, pasty looking dudes.”
“If you go across the river to these little Ohio hick towns the cops there are fat asses. They get free donuts and the hoes over there will still fuck ‘em because they are cops. They make seven somethin’ an hour but they get a uniform. They’d make more money wearin’ a McDonald’s uniform but they have perceived power. Not real power, but that uniform represents perceived power. At least in these small cities, they make sure their cops can do a sit-up.”
“You da man, Dawg.”
“Tonight, we’re gonna show these mama’s boys what real soldiers look like. If they decide they want to fight. Then tomorrow, we will roll over the pansies and display their heads so everyone can see what happens when the weak get in the way of the strong.”
It was almost nine o’clock when Tina Rollins decided to start her assignment. There was a brisk crowd starting to flow into The New Warehouse. It was nowhere near capacity but there were some early customers coming in to secure tables. The manager, Vince, was in his office next to the back door. Tina got a pitcher of beer and when no one was looking poured it down the front of her shirt. She entered into Vince’s office.
“Damn it! Vince, look what some bastard did!”
“What happened?’ the manager inquired.
“I dunno if he was drunk or not but some bastard bumped into me and the pitcher of beer I was carrying soaked my shirt, even my bra is soaked!’
“Guess it’s not your lucky night.”
“Well, luckily I do have some extra clothes out in the car. I have another shirt I can get. Can you give me the keys so I can run out back before it gets busy? I’m parked at the back door.”
“Sure.” Vince tossed her the keys.
Tina slipped through the back door and returned with the bag she had placed under the front seat of her car. She changed her shirt. Then, she took the bag and hid it in a safe place in the kitchen.
About ten o’clock, Terrell and Donte entered the bar.
“Oh boy, not you,” CJ the doorman laughed. “We got special instructions for you.” CJ not only sent Terrell, Donte and the two guys with them through the metal detector, but the four of them were also thoroughly frisked.
“I just love getting’ the VIP treatment,” Terrell laughed. “Nothin’ like a free feel up. Ya pay twenty for that on the block.”
“Nothin’ personal, Terrell. You know we love you, just the cops told us to watch you if you come.”
“I feel ya, Dawg. Nobody starts no trouble and there won’t be none. You know how I roll.”
“I hear ya, man. It’s just after last night, everyone is jumpy. We know you’re friends with Brit. Everyone here feels bad about it. We’re just like you guys, we want the dudes that did it caught.”
“That’s what’s up, Dawg. That shit wasn’t right, she’s a good girl.”
“Have you heard anything about her? You know, how’s she doin?”
Donte spoke up. “I seen her today. Not good. Not good at all. It was rough seeing her with all these tubes stuck up in her. It’s not cool at all.”
Terrell chimed in,”I seen her old man today. That dude’s about off of his rocker, Dawg. He’s not happy one bit. He’s ready to go all Charles Bronson.”
CJ said, “Well, take your minds off of it a while and have a good time. If you see anyone or anything involved let us know. The police are close and they’ll handle in. No trouble in here tonight. Okay, guys? I don’t need it!”
Terrell agreed, “Sure thing, Dawg. We’ll keep it straight. We’re just here to chill. Just here to chill.”
The two guys with Terrell and Donte were Rodrick and Raheem West. They were brothers who were also drug runners for Dre. They were dressed very similar to each other, both emulating their hero, Terrell. They were Huntington natives who pretended to be Detroit-like gangsters. They were both around six foot two and around two hundred and thirty pounds. Both looked imposing and walked like they could protect themselves should a fight break out. The four men each bought a beer and headed upstairs.
Tina Rollins saw the men walk in and promptly called Deandre to let him know that the target of her assignment had arrived.
Matt James paced the floors of St. Mary’s Hospital. He walked back and forth between the floor and room housing his wife Brenda and the intensive care floor which housed his daughter Britney. He thought about the gun that was stashed in his car. He would soon make his anger known but for now, his family was going to receive his full attention.
Toy and Ghost entered The New Warehouse around fifteen after ten. They were two of Deandre’s soldiers and looked so much the Detroit thug type that the doormen gave them the special pat down that was reserved just for tonight’s gangster looking customers. They passed through the metal detectors, received their frisking, and walked back by the men’s room door.
Tina noticed them and walked to the kitchen. She grabbed the bag and motioned the duo towards the back door. When no one was looking she handed the two hit men the two loaded 9mms with extra clips that were in the bag. She slunk away like she had never even seen the two men.
Around twenty after ten, Mike Bartee was collecting the trash from around the pumps at The Go Mart on Route 60 in Huntington. A red Chevy Cavalier pulled up behind him as he carried the trash to the dumpster. A passenger from the front and a passenger from the back rolled down their windows. They whipped out AK 47’s and ghetto sprayed the huge glass windows in the front of the stores. The glass crumbled and the sounds of the shattering windows and the automatic weapons created a horrifying noise that mixed with the screams of customers and employees to send a bolt of terror through the East End of Huntington. Bartee fell face first onto the ground. He abandoned his trash and raced inside. Urine was running down his pants leg. The passengers disappeared into the night and ditched the stolen car in Barboursville.
John Ross and Patrick Tyler had just pulled into The New Warehouse parking lot. They stood outside the car and watched patrons pass by to enter the bar. John particularly noticed the young girls that were passing by and entering into the bar.
Suddenly, a call came over that the Go Mart on route 60 had been shot up. Then seconds later before the cops could respond, another call came through that a gray Volkswagen Jetta had shot up the Go Mart on the west end of town.
The cops jumped in the car. “Which way we headed?” asked Pat Tyler.
“No where. The others can handle it. We are staying right here.”
“Why? There may be a shootout if they catch ‘em.”
“It’s basketball, Son. They are spreading the defense. Taking out defenders to each side. They are trying to get a mismatch down inside. They’ll pass the ball to their star player and have him take it to the bucket.”
“The bucket. Downtown is the bucket. They are decoying. The target is somewhere in the area. They just want us spread out so they can do what they want and to get away. They’ll probably pass into Ohio. Unless they block the bridge entry.”
Just minutes after the Go Mart shootings, Toy and Ghost spotted Terrell and his friends upstairs at The New Warehouse. Ghost started smiling and walked toward Terrell. Terrell did not know him well but knew who he was. He figured it was time to fight.
Terrell started toward him. Ghost approached and as he was within ten feet, he whipped out the Smith and Wesson. He fired and struck Terrell in the shoulder. The shot drove him onto his knees. Ghost walked up to him. Grabbing Terrell’s head, he said “Deandre said ‘hello’ and ‘goodbye’.”
Ghost pulled the trigger from close range. The bullet splattered Terrell’s brains and killed him instantly, execution style. Raheem jumped at Ghost. He had Ghost in a hold when Toy fired and eliminated Raheem. Donte did not know what to do. He retreated down the steps. Customers were screaming and crying and stampeding down the steps.
Roderick made a move to defend his brother. Ghost recovered and shot him. Toy shot him close range to make sure he was dead. The killers looked around to plot their escape. Their only way was down the steps. Panicking customers were already ahead of them. Many were falling and clogging up the stairway.
John Ross heard the gunfire and saw the crowd begin to come screaming out of the bar and onto the parking lot. Patrick called for backup as John drew his weapon and headed toward the bar.
Donte was in shock but made it safely down the steps and leaned against the wall to assess the situation. He knew Terrell had men armed and outside the bar but figured it was too late to get his friend help. He stood out of the path in case Terrell’s men heard the shots and came inside firing.
The two gangsters looked at each other. They pulled their weapons and fired into the air in order to scare people out of their way so they could escape. Ghost started barreling down the stairs. His feet got caught up in a female who had fallen on the steps, and he fell momentarily. His gun was in the air as he tried to balance himself. He looked up and saw John Ross approach the steps with his weapon drawn.
“Huntington Police, put down your weapon! Now!” John Ross commanded. Ghost brought his gun down to fire. John Ross squeezed the trigger twice and Ghost came tumbling down the stairs toward him.
Toy was at the top of the stairs. He fired at Ross as he watched his friend fall. The shots went wild. John stepped forward and squeezed the trigger again. The shot hit Toy. He staggered off of the steps and against the railing. He tried to move but fell forward and over the railing. Toy landed in blood on the ground of the first floor.
John Ross walked over with his weapon drawn to check that Toy was dead, and then headed upstairs to make sure there were no more gunmen. He secured the second floor.
Pat Tyler had come inside and secured the first floor. Backup was arriving. The police sirens blended in with the sirens of the arriving ambulances. War had arrived to Huntington.
Terror filled the parking lot. Customers were running everywhere and screaming. Some were in shock and fell to the ground. The incoming police cars and ambulances had trouble pulling into the parking lot. There were frightened partiers everywhere running around like a monster was behind them. Several people were inside the bar, hiding under tables. Donte sneaked past everyone and quietly left the bar.
The police had secured the building and were confident there were no more shooters. The paramedics began removing the dead bodies. There were five, three from Huntington and two from Detroit.
The night was exploding in fear and terror. The shrill sounds of ambulances and police cars rang through Huntington. Screams could be heard throughout downtown.
Tina Rollins snuck away from the crowd. She called Deandre. She had good news and bad news. The good news was that Terrell Jones was dead. The bad news was that Deandre Washington now had a new person to hate – John Ross. The Huntington police officer singlehandedly erased two of Deandre’s best soldiers.
The New Warehouse looked like a warzone. Chairs and tables had been shot to pieces upstairs. There were bloodstains and blood splatters both upstairs and downstairs. Broken glass was everywhere.
Bar patrons were sobbing and crying. None had been shot but several were hurt in the stampede to get down the steps and to get outside. There were plenty of twisted ankles and knees and a few broken bones from people who had fallen down the steps. A few fingers had been stepped on and broken as well. There were a few cases where people had gone in to shock.
The incident had certainly brought an element of terror to Huntington. Many who had witnessed the shoot out would have nightmares for years. It would be a long time before many of these witnesses would feel safe in public again. Loud car backfires or firecrackers could deliver a flashback of fear to some of these people who were only out looking for a good time. Another layer of innocence had been stripped from Huntington.
There was plenty of anger in the air. Several officers were mad that outsiders could do this to their hometown. Some of the older officers had a feeling of disgust. Rick Perry felt this way. The whole incident was so pointless. The only thing that was proven was how vulnerable Huntington is, how vulnerable any town is for that matter. This was something that happened in big cities quite frequently, but until now it was unheard of in places Huntington.
Rick was almost sick to his stomach. The effects of the lack of sleep over the last couple of days were beginning to set in, although adrenalin kept him going. He couldn’t have slept if he’d wanted to. This was the sort of terror that real Huntington Police officers had been striving to prevent from coming to their town.
Adrenalin was shooting through John Ross’s veins also. Sure, he was a macho cop and many of his fellow officers figured he would be reveling in the attention and glory, strutting around like he was Super Cop. But Officer Ross did not feel that way at all. He had been on the force for almost twenty years and this was the first time he had fired his weapon in the line of duty. He really did not know how to feel. He knew he hadn’t had a choice. He knew the two thugs were going to hurt innocent people. John Ross knew that if he had not fired then he himself would be in one of the ambulances at this moment.
This was a fight that no one had won. Likely, the fight was not over. Police Chief Mike Beal figured that Deandre Washington was plotting his revenge at that very moment. In fact, Beal was very fearful that the attacks on Go Mart would occur again except this time the targets would be real people. The parking lot was full of Huntington Police, West Virginia State troopers, Cabell County Deputies, Marshall University Police, and even DEA agents were arriving. Likely, FBI would eventually be on the case. The thought going through his mind was that another attack could be launched at another part of the city and no one would be there to defend it.
Even Deandre Washington felt a little remorse. He was leaving the Huntington area. He would be back. It was not over but he needed a break. He had not counted on the night turning out the way it did. He knew all of Huntington would be looking for him. Emotions would be very high for awhile. He needed to get out of town and literally let the dust settle.
Deandre also suffered loss. Ghost and Toy had been close friends for years. They had grown up together on the streets of Detroit. Deandre was not so warped that he did not feel the loss of good friends. Certainly, their losses would be revenged. But there was a time and place for everything and although he was angry at the defiance the Huntington police exhibited he would take time to map his strategy.
Sure, his gang in Detroit was going to want the head of the Huntington cop whose cowboy antics took two of their friends. Sure, Huntington was going to have a sense of victory and confidence. This was only going to lead to more defiance from other drug dealers, more cowboy heroism from the police, and more White Wesley’s springing up to help Huntington. Events liked this scared some but also gave others a sense of bravery and a quest for heroism.
But, part of Deandre’s mission had been accomplished. Terrell Jones and two of his gang had been killed. Tales would be told for years of how Terrell Jones was executed in his favorite bar. Huntington residents would have a fear of being in public for a while. So for Deandre Washington, the night had both its good and bad aspects.
Rick Perry walked up to John Ross and slapped his buddy on the back. “Good work. You okay?”
John Ross shook his head. “I don’t know. It all happened so fast. It could have been worse.”
“Don’t forget that. Your fast action saved lives. If you hadn’t been on the lot and rushed in there, they might have turned their guns on innocent people to get out of the bar. I know it’s tough to use your gun, but you did the only thing you could do.”
“Yeah, I know it’s part of the job. I told myself all of these years I had been lucky not to be in that situation, but this is what we are hired to do.”
“I hate to say it, but you probably realize that reporters are going to be hounding you.”
“Yeah, I’m sure I’ll be a hero.”
“The bigger hero you become the bigger the target on your head becomes so just be careful what you say.”
Ross looked at his friend with a puzzled expression. “Not sure what that is supposed to mean, but I’ll take care of it.”
Patrick Tyler was full of adrenalin but was also kind of in shock. This was not exactly what he signed up for and he was not sure about being a cop at this moment. Sure, he was full of pride that he was part of the team that quelled the attack, but this was not the kind of stress he wanted to deal with on a daily basis. He could envision the future and how a future wife and family of his would feel about him being a cop. It was sinking in to him that this was dangerous work and one never knows what could happen. An officer could start the day thinking it was just another day but could be ending the night in an ambulance.
Chaos continued in the parking lot. Television cameras were arriving and reporters were hustling to soak up the story. Bystanders were standing outside the yellow tape to see what was going on at the crime scene.
Donte Carter was in the next lot throwing up. He had lost his best friend. He would have to tell Terrell’s family what had happened. The picture of his childhood buddy being shot at close range would haunt him the rest of his life. Donte just could not understand it. He had been working hard going to school and working at the hospital to make something of himself. Then, the events of the last two nights had jolted him into reality. A girl who he was crazy about had been brutally raped. His best friend had been ruthlessly killed.
He was standing at a crossroads in his life and he knew it would take a while to decide which way to go. Revenge was going to tug at him to avenge his friends. Common sense was going to tell him to look the other way. He just did not know if he was strong enough to look the other way. At this moment, he did not think he was.
Matt James was at the hospital and saw ambulances roll up with injured bar patrons and witnesses who would be treated for shock. Tears welled up in him. It all brought back the night before when he found out about Britney. He went back upstairs and kissed his daughter. Life was precious and could be taken away in a quick moment.
He walked outside and got into his SUV. He drove by the New Warehouse and witnessed the drama. He thought that that’s how things must have looked last night when Brit was attacked. Police cars, ambulances, bystanders and news cameras all crowded the lot. He could still hear sobbing.
He just did not understand the way things have become in the world. When he was young, people settled their disagreements with their fists. The worse that may have happened was that extra people would jump into the fight. As things got worse, people started carrying and using knives. Nowadays, if there’s a disagreement someone just pulls out a gun and the settle argument like that.
Huntington was hurting, he thought to himself. It was easy to blame. It was easy to blame the police for letting drugs slip into Huntington and a culture to grow. It was easy to blame the people that watched drugs being dealt in their neighborhood and looked the other way. It was easy to blame the kids who idolized drug dealers and gangsters. It was easy to blame the dealers who preyed on weak individuals. Yes, two things came easy at this moment: blame and hatred.
Matt was tired of hurting, hating, and blaming. He wanted his family back. He was going to walk the hard road that lie in front of him. He headed toward the Sixth Street Bridge. He stopped his Kia half way across the bridge. He got out of the car. He threw the gun that Terrell had given him into The Ohio River. He was tired of hurting. It was time for healing. More negative would only serve to tear Huntington down. It was him home. It was time for the positive to correct the damage that the negative had created.
Police Chief Mike Beal wiped the sleep from his eyes as Mayor Tom Samples pulled up a chair and sat across from him in the Chief’s office. Police Chief Beal did not look well at all. He had been working diligently without sleep. He had barely eaten the last couple days but he was not about to complain because he did not have much of an appetite. Stress was hard on the Chief’s stomach. There was times when he feared that his body would not be able to meet the demands his job placed on it.
“Interesting night, huh? Been here all night?” Samples asked. He took a sip from the Starbuck’s that he was counting on waking himself up and giving him an extra kick. He had not slept much himself. He knew how the lack of sleep made him feel. This made him worry about a whole police force of men roaming the streets without much sleep. If this war continued for very long, lack of sleep would be taking a toll on The Huntington Police Department.
It was just after eight on Sunday morning and it was obvious that Chief Beal had been up all night. “Yeah, been making phone calls and going over strategy to make sure everything is safe for tonight,” Chief Beal yawned.
“Scary to think there may be another night like the last two. But I’m sure Washington’s going to get his revenge. A lot is going to happen today. I’ve got a full agenda…for a Sunday anyway. What all have you decided?”
“Well, Rick Perry and The Crimes Against Persons division is leading the investigation into last night’s violence including the Go Mart shootings. We also have a guy from The DEA Task Force out of Charleston coming in to help. Of course, Ross’s shooting is being investigated,” Beal continued. “He is being placed on administrative leave. In a few days, the info will be given to The District Attorney who will meet with The Grand Jury to see how they rule. He’ll have a psychiatric evaluation as well. It looks like a necessary shooting but at any rate, we are going to lose John for at least two weeks.”
“Good cop. That’s going to hurt with all of the hours needed.”
“Yeah, using lots of overtime. Anyone off is being called in for the evening and midnight shifts. We are going with two officers per car like last night. Extra patrols downtown, but with it being Sunday and last night’s shooting in the news, there shouldn’t be anyone out and about.”
Samples took a drink of coffee. “Yeah, it’s all over the news right now. I’m sure there’s going to be plenty of people trying to stir things up. I’ve taken that into consideration in developing my plans.”
“I’m trying to get a hold of Detroit to see if we can get someone up here from the Detroit Major Crimes and Violent Task Force to help us track down Washington’s gang. We’ll see if they can get intel from up there about what he’s up to. It’s Sunday morning so I haven’t gotten a response yet from them.”
Beal stretched and yawned and then continued, “Of course, we have a DEA guy who works with our force, and he’s been briefed. The Drug unit is going to put more pressure up on the block. They’ve had several arrests lately but they are going to step up the pressure. They want to stay visible and let Washington and city residents know that we are not afraid and not backing down. Plus, they are going to press for info on Washington’s whereabouts. Plus, been doing interviews and as you know, the press conference is set for 1 PM.”
Samples cut in, “Very good effort. You guys have been on the ball, right on top of things. You saved some lives last night.” Samples did not have a lot of faith in Beal’s men. The Huntington Police had not been coming through in high profile cases lately and this made Samples nervous. The prom night shootings had never been solved. Another front page murder involving a young local girl had never been solved either. This led to a lot of complaining and criticizing from the people who elected Samples and could well put him out of office if they were not happy with the force’s performance.
“Yeah, the force came through. It’s going to get rougher as everyone gets tired and overworked. The stress is almost unbearable, knowing that a war can erupt at any time.” He and Samples had disagreed about the police department on several occasions, but unlike Samples, the police chief had faith in his men.
“Well, I’ve got interviews and lots of PR work ahead of me today. I’m going to meet with the press and tell them to keep things clean. The paper only had time to put out a brief headline with the summary, since they go to press early on Sunday. But their reporters are all over, as I’m sure you know, and they will be on it all day.”
“Yeah, they keep hounding me. I’m referring them to the conference today.” Beal despised reporters. He knew Samples loved cameras and microphones and he wished there was a way that Samples could handle all of the reporters so he could concentrate on the important factors that could save people’s lives.
“Well, I’m going to talk to Herald-Dispatch’s editor. We need to keep the city together. As you know, all five victims are black, so there is an opportunity for troublemakers to divide the city, which would be the last thing we need. We have to keep it good vs. evil and not black vs. white.”
The police chief shook his head in agreement and the mayor continued. “I’m going to talk to Art Davis of the NAACP and have him at the conference today. I’m sure he’s all for keeping race out of this. It seems like an easy thing but for some reason, the media likes to get race involved. National media more so than local media, and I’m sure we are going to get some national coverage. I’m going to issue a statement about the incident and impending press conference as I’m sure you already have.”
Beal nodded his head in agreement. Samples continued, “We just need to be proactive and keep everyone cool. We don’t want anyone to panic. They should be safe in their homes. I want to put out a statement that we don’t need a run on guns. The Huntington Police Department is well equipped to handle the situation. We need to make sure that vigilantes stay out of it. We certainly don’t need a truckload of Wayne County rednecks heading to Hal Greer with a truckload of gun toting hillbillies.”
Beal laughed but he knew that was always a possibility. Beal spoke up, “Yeah, if they are scared, they need to stay indoors. After all, it is Sunday.”
Samples looked serious as he stared at Mike and asked, “Now, Mike…between you and me. What kind of danger do you think we are in?”
“I certainly think they are going to retaliate. If not they may as well close shop. The funerals are coming in a few days. I certainly plan on giving the West boys and Terrell Jones all the respect in the world. Their families and friends are going to be wild and that’s another angle we need to cover. We’ll need security at the funeral homes and funerals. We’ll need to talk to the families and offer our support. There isn’t anything we could have done. The Detroit boys killed them and we were on the spot seconds after the boys were killed. In fact, our officer killed the killers. If we could have gotten to Jones when we were looking for him yesterday we could have prevented it from happening and protected him but we did not get any cooperation from his family. They acted like we wanted to put him in jail.”
“The media needs to treat the boys as victims and not guys that were looking for a fight. We need this to be between the police and Washington’s guys. We don’t need hometown boys seeking revenge.” Mayor Samples was very afraid that race was going to get involved. It was necessary to keep politics out of the situation as much as possible. This war did not have anything to do with race. It was about drugs, money, and power.
“I think the gang will act. It may be tonight, it may be after the funerals. I’m not sure when, but my gut tells me that Washington is not going to let this stand. He’s got the firepower and he’s going to get his respect and revenge. He may wait until after he buries his two men and he may strike tonight while his blood is boiling. Either way, we will be prepared.” Beal knew that Washington was not going to give the police that satisfaction of thinking they had won. This was about territory and pride. Washington made too much money from Huntington to let his business slip away.
The Detroit thugs called Huntington ‘Munnington’ for a very good reason. They came hundreds of miles from home because they knew the money was here. It was a simple case of supply and demand. Huntington residents had the money and wanted drugs. The Detroit dealers simply filled the demand. Like a seasoned marketing professional, they had the right product in the right place at the right time.
“I’m going to report to the Governor as well and if things get out of hand we’ll bring in the National Guard. I think your boys can handle it but I’m not going to risk innocent citizens getting hurt. If it appears your men can’t handle it, I’m bringing them in.”
Matt James was standing outside of Brenda’s room talking with her psychiatrist Dr Spangler. So much had happened this weekend, Matt’s head was starting to swim. He had very little sleep since Thursday night. It was now around ten thirty Sunday morning. He was praying for positive news, he really needed positive news to keep from going insane.
“She is in complete denial,” Dr. Spangler stated. “She thinks she needs her medicine. She may still have a little pain from her accident but she is taking enough painkillers to stop a horse’s heart.” Dr. Spangler was sympathetic because he knew what Matt had been going through with Britney in the hospital. But he knew that Brenda’s life depended on his honesty. Brenda has been at death’s door too many times now and the madness had to stop.
“I guess I’ve been in denial, too, Doctor. I did not have any idea that she had gotten so bad. I just gave her what she wanted without realizing it was her addiction that wanted it. I’ve just been in this work-induced cocoon and I guess mid-life crisis, and didn’t realize what my wife or daughter were doing.” Matt was feeling powerless. He felt like he has lost control of everything in his life. In doing so, he felt like he had let his family down. With the two people he loved most in the world lying in the hospital, Matt felt like a total failure. The worse thing about seeing people you love in trouble is knowing that you cannot save them. It is even worse when you believe that you had an opportunity to save them at one time and that time passed.
“It happens, Mr. James, we are human. The important thing is that now your eyes are open and you have to get some control over the situation. Your wife isn’t going to get better as long as you give in to her. She doesn’t even think she has a problem. “ Dr. Spangler had witnessed this problem many times.
“Well, Doc, you can count on me. I’ve got to get my family back. I’m not talking about the way it was last week or last month, but the way it was years ago.” Matt meant what he said. If he made it through this week with his family intact he swore he would do whatever it takes to return happiness to their lives.
“Well, she’s wanting out. Most of our patients get out in about ten days, but as long as she stays in denial she’ll go the whole thirty.”
“Wel-“, Matt started but his phone began to ring. He looked at the phone and it was from Britney’s floor. “Doc, excuse me, this is downstairs.”
Matt pushed the button and answered, “Hello?”
“Mr. James, we have great news. Britney is coming around!”
“I’ll be right there!” Matt’s face lit up as he hung up the phone. “Doc, I gotta go!”
“I understand,” Dr. Spangler smiled, he was well aware that Britney was in the hospital as well.
Matt James literally ran through the halls of St. Mary’s. His heart was racing. The moment he feared would never come was here.
Donte Carter was in Terrell Jones mother’s living room. They were hugging each other both crying their eyes out. Terrell’s brothers and cousin’s were angrily yelling in the background. Neighbors, family, and friends had been stopping by since the news of Terrell’s murder broke.
“I’m sorry, Donna. It happened so fast; I did all I could do.” Donte cried as his heart broke.
“I know you did, D. I know you did. You were closer than brothers. Ever since you were little you were best friends. I know you did all you could.”
Thurman, Terrell’s brother, was about out of his mind. “We’ll blow their asses off the block all the way back to Detroit! Terrell will be avenged!”
“They’re gonna bury my baby in a few days, D. They’re gonna put my baby in the ground.” Terrell’s mother was still hugging Donte as her tears ran down her face and onto his shoulder.
Donte could not even answer. His own tears were gushing down his cheeks and down her back. He was in an unimaginable amount of pain. His heart never hurt like this in all of his life. Donna Jones was like a second mother to Donte. He practically grew up in her house. She fed him, worried about him, and even at times, cussed him over the years. They were closer than friends and perhaps in many ways closer than family. Now she was in intolerable pain, a pain that would never relinquish its grip. There was nothing he could do to make it easier. His only chance had been last night but it was gone before he realized it.
“They’re gonna bury my Terrell! I’ll never see my baby again!” Her anguish would not cease. Donte had never cried as hard in his life.
The yelling continued in the background. Violence was being promised by Terrell’s family. Thurman slapped Donte on the back. “Are you in, Bro?”
Donte broke away from Donna’s hug. “Damn straight, I am,” he said through clenched teeth.
Not far from Terrell’s mom’s house at the Fairfield Manor, a gang of angry youth met in the parking lot. A young man of about twenty was standing on an old Oldsmobile, yelling to about twenty other angry youth. “We can’t tolerate this anymore. They killed our brother! Eye for an eye!” The talk and shouts had gone on for several moments and people walking down the street were stopping to listen to the threats and calls for violence. Many people were coming out of their apartments and listening to the impromptu speeches.
Wanda Hastings, a seventy four year old woman with brown skin and gray hair struggled to walk to where the young man was on the car. She looked at him and said, “You young fool, get down from there!”
Everyone looked at her and she spoke to them, “Listen, I knew Terrell since he was a young boy. He played with my grandchildren. Drugs killed him! This is not about war and it’s not about the color of our skin as I have heard some of you say. Those police did not kill Terrell. Yes, they shot black boys but they killed the thugs that killed Terrell! You have got to quit killing each other. Those evil drugs killed Terrell. You boys are all fighting over the wrong thing! If you want to honor Terrell, help make these projects free of drugs. Yes, those guys you want to kill sell drugs, but most of you all do too. If you want to stop what killed Terrell, you start with yourselves.”
Wanda caught her breath and pointed at a young boy about sixteen. “Dre, start with yourself. Quit dealing drugs in our project. Start with yourselves before you start with outsiders. Clean your own selves up then you can be right in going after the outsiders. Quit being hypocritical and clean up your own house first. You boys had drugs all up in here long before those boys came down from Detroit. They just sold ‘em because you bought them. If you’d quit buying, they wouldn’t have anyone to sell to!”
By now, Wanda could barely breathe. Dre walked away first. The embarrassed crowd quickly dispersed. The truth of a seventy four year old woman brought peace back to the parking lot of The Fairfield Manor.
Chief Mike Beal held the press conference on the plaza in downtown Huntington. There were reporters from all over West Virginia. He was surprised not to see any national media coverage. For now, The Battle of Huntington was a regional story.
Beal informed the press on how all of the events since Friday were linked. He told the media that gangsters Melvin “Mardy” Gibson and Reginald “Remmie” Watson, each from Detroit, were wanted for Friday night’s attack on an unnamed eighteen year old Huntington girl.
The Chief said the murder of informant Wesley “White Wesley” Parks was also linked to the violence of the past weekend. Law enforcement was not sure if the same two men were involved but they did want to question them about the murder. It was announced that Parks had talked to the police and gave them information regarding Deandre Washington, who was believed to be the leader of the gang that was terrorizing Huntington.
Beal linked Washington and his men to the shootings at the two Go Marts which were decoys to distract the police. He said Chris “Ghost” Neal and Leroy “Toy” Jackson murdered Terrell Jones, Roderick West, and Raheem West at The New Warehouse Saturday night. The murderers were then shot and killed by Huntington Police Officer John Ross. The shooting was still under investigation and Ross had been placed on administrative leave pending the findings of the investigators. It was believed that Neal and Jackson were from Detroit and members of Washington’s gang. It was also believed they killed the three men in a dispute over drugs.
Beal introduced Mayor Tom Samples. Samples discussed the precautions the city was going to take to keep Huntington safe. He discussed how drugs were giving the city a black eye. He described how Huntington was a wonderful place to live and that the drug war was an isolated incident that the police had under control. He discussed that although it was bad things that was getting Huntington in the headlines that there was plenty of positive events going on in Huntington as well.
Then, Art Davis, the head of the local NCAAP Chapter of Huntington spoke about how the loss of the three Huntington residents would affect the Fairfield community. He cautioned that this was not a fight between black and white. He mentioned that the young black Huntington men were killed by Detroit blacks. The white Huntington police officer shot the Detroit men in self-defense.
Mr. Davis talked about how the black community of Huntington cannot let outsiders bring drugs into their neighborhoods. He discussed how drugs were tragically affecting the Fairfield neighborhood. He pleaded for unity and for the community to stick together and not be afraid to tell the police about drug activity despite what happened to the informant.
Mike Beal was ready to field questions from the media when a man from the back yelled out he wanted to speak to the crowd. Beal and Samples looked at each other with bewildered looks. The man identified himself as Matt James, the father of the girl who was attacked on Friday. The chief and the mayor would have preferred that the man did not speak, but the media was interested in what he had to say, especially since they knew most of the information that Beal had given and all the other two men gave were generic public relations speeches. The media was looking for meat and was sure this man would give them some.
Matt walked up and stood behind the microphone. Taking a deep breath, he started, “My name is Matt James. The vicious attack on my daughter made me realize that both good and evil are alive in Huntington. The good is in Huntington residents. Since the attack my family has received an outpouring of support from Huntington residents. People that I didn’t even know before Friday, I now call friend. Everyone at St. Mary’s where Britney is at has been wonderful. Britney has received hundreds of cards and flowers wishing her a speedy recovery. And I am standing here very happy to report that a short time ago, she woke from her coma. She is still suffering from shock but her being awake has given her mother and me hope.”
There was applause from the audience and Matt continued. “I now know of the evil in Huntington. I had tunnel vision. I did not inquire what my daughter was doing. She is such a sweet girl. But with sweetness comes innocence and too much trust. She was hanging with people like Terrell Jones and it was that relationship that has almost taken her from her mother and me. I now realize that being active in your child’s life does not mean you are being nosey, though if it takes nosiness to protect your child, maybe we all need a bigger nose.”
Matt paused and started again, “Huntington is my town and it is your town. We must be vigilant in keeping it a town we are proud of. We cannot let outsiders take our town away. I heard about White Wesley but we cannot let fear of what happened to him silence us. If you see wrong, report it to the proper authorities, because it might be that wrong that costs you a child, be it by drugs or by gun… it could cost you or your neighbor a child. We must rally together and take back our town! If it takes a war to rid us of scum, then let there be war!”
“Okay,” Mike Beal said to himself, “time to end the freak show.” He walked up and thanked Matt but said he needed the microphone back.
Mike Beal now had control of the microphone and in a serious tone said, “Thank you, Mr. James. I do want to clarify a few things just so that there weren’t any hidden messages or misunderstandings. This city will not in any way, shape, or form tolerate vigilantism. If what Mr. James means is help your police by giving them information, then we are all for that. But if he is suggesting vigilantism, than let me say, this city convicts vigilantes. We have a capable police force. While we can always use tips and info, we are well capable of providing the justice in this town.”
The press conference was in chaos now. Many reporters were following Matt James as he left the conference. Mike Beal noticed this and started the question and answer phase. The first question asked sent Chief Beal into fits. Reporter Mike Clark from The Charleston Gazette asked, “Are you sure the police can legally break up the gang, I mean, sometimes to stop a bully you have to fight them. Can the police really legally do this? I mean, at this point, aren’t the police nothing more than firemen just putting out fires as they arise?”
Mike Beal was tired and becoming enraged, “All right. You know what? This press conference is over. My men and I have worked hard without sleep since this all began Friday. We all have more important things to do right now in the name of Huntington’s safety than to go down this road. That was a completely ignorant question. Let me warn you all, irresponsible reporting will just get people worked up. If they get so worked up and do something stupid and get themselves hurt, it’s on your souls. If you care about this town, be careful what you report.” With the end of that comment, Mike Beal hurried off to his car.
Telephones and computers were buzzing all Sunday afternoon discussing the events of the weekend and the press conference. As with any other similar event, there was just as much gossip and lies being spread as truth. But as long as people were inside talking instead of out in public, the streets were easier to manage. The streets were not very busy Sunday afternoon and downtown Huntington was a ghost town Sunday night. The police were still manning their police cars with two men patrols instead of the usual one. The town needed a night of rest after the previous two evenings.
Some of Deandre’s dealers did not take Sunday off, however. Two of these were OG Mack and Bud. They had done a pretty good business Sunday. OG Mack was stoned and lying back in his recliner at their house on Charleston Avenue. It was after 3 am and Bud was passed out on the sofa. The neighborhood was eerily quiet as seven men approached the house. The men were completely dressed in black. This was not Johnny Cash attire, but more like ninja attire. They wore black masks and black gloves. Their clothing was black from their shirt collars down to their socks, shoes, and even shoestrings. Five of the men lined up single file on the porch. With a sudden movement, the first man kicked in the door.
Bud was not even awakened by the noise of the foot connecting with the wooden door. OG Mack sat up in his recliner but by the time he realized there were intruders in his house, it was already too late for him. The first man into the house started wailing on OG’s head. The attacker connected on five solid hits to the head. Two men threw Bud on the floor and started kicking him in the head and ribs. The two other men secured the house to make sure no one else was there.
The first vigilante pulled out a pair of handcuffs and handcuffed OG Mack to a table. He stuffed a rag in his mouth. He pulled the thug’s pants down and when OG was in a bent position, the vigilante shoved a cucumber up into him several times. The thug tried to fight but another vigilante stuck a gun to his head and said, “This is for what your buddies did to Britney James. How do you like it?”
Meanwhile, the two other vigilantes were beating on Bud. The fifth one was ripping through everything looking for money and drugs. When they were done, they handcuffed OG Mack and Bud with their hands behind their backs. The vigilantes rummaged through everything until they found a few thousand in cash and an assortment of pills. They also found a pound of marijuana in a closet.
As they left, a vigilante looked at Bud and said, “Tell your boss you guys best get out of Huntington. This is our town and we are taking it back. We are The Huntington Southside Protectors or you can call us HSP!”
The five joined up with the two men who were waiting outside. While the five had done their damage inside, the two that were standing guard outside also spray painted in big red letters on the white house: Go Back To Detroit.
Chief Mike Beal got a good night’s sleep Sunday night and was at his office early Monday morning. His aggravation started early when he got a glimpse of The Herald Dispatch’s front headline. In bold letters across the top, it read, “CHIEF BEAL ABANDONS CONFERENCE”. Beal did not bother to read any more, he quickly deposited the paper in the trash. He was quite taken aback by the headline. The Herald dispatch had usually been very cooperative when it came to police matters. He did not understand why they were prodding his department, but he would leave public relations matters to others in the department and the mayor. He was more concerned with keeping the city secure. At least no incidents were report Sunday. In fact, it had been the quietest night in a long time.
The Huntington Police Department may have not have had any incidents reported Sunday evening but Deandre Washington had an incident reported to him early Monday morning. Deandre shook his head. For a moment Sunday even he had gone soft and considered leaving Huntington alone for awhile. He thought about letting things cool down and let some money flow in from just a few dealers in Huntington. He thought he’d open up another franchise of his drug business in another mountain town. But the hillbillies could not let him be, they had to go and rob his men. The rednecks even had the balls to rape one of his guys. It was bad enough that some cowboy cop offed two of his friends but they raped one of his men. Now, Deandre was going to have to go back to Huntington and kick some more asses.
His first target would be the hero cop John Ross. He did not like that cop from the moment he saw him at AJ’s and could not believe the little bastard had the nerve to kill two of his men. Ross’s picture may be on the front page of the Huntington paper now but Deandre was determined that little Dirty Harry reject’s head would soon be on a stick out in front of Huntington City Hall.
John Ross slept in a little later than usual. The stressful weekend had worn him out. Reporters called all day yesterday. Friends burned his phone line up to congratulate him on his great police work. He vowed to stay away from phones and reporters today. Today it was just going to be him and his best friend Budweiser. He and his buddy Bud would watch television all day today. They would watch movies, sports, soap operas, anything but the news. His fellow officers could keep his town safe today. John Ross was on vacation.
Donte Carter was an emotional wreck. He was skipping classes today and he was going to call in sick for work for the next two days. His best friend Terrell Jones was going to be laid to rest tomorrow. The showing was for Monday night. Donte did not get any sleep Sunday night but he forced himself out of bed Monday and went to shoot baskets. Terrell and Donte shot millions of baskets together. The pair was unbeatable in a game of two and two hoop. They may not have been as tall as their opposition or even as talented, but they had chemistry. There was very little the duo could not achieve together. He did not agree with everything that Terrell did, but he had never been closer with another human being in all of his life. He knew he never would be either.
Matt James was taking a week off of work. His vacation would be spent at St. Mary’s. Progress was going to be slow with Britney. But the hope of progress was becoming a promise of progress. Along with her physical pain would also be psychological pain. The psychological part would definitely take longer to heal. He was just thrilled to have her awake at times, though she was heavily sedated.
He was enjoying his time spent with Brenda. Her therapists reported that she was making tremendous progress. It had only been a short time but they had cracked through her denial. Now that she admitted she had a drug problem, they could begin to treat her addiction. Matt was already seeing signs of the old Brenda in just a short time. The pair considered it a miracle that their baby was still alive. Now, that God had brought Britney out of her coma, he could help Brenda beat her addiction.
Rick Perry was working just as hard Monday morning as he had Friday evening. There had not been much of a break in the action for Rick. Rick had plenty of help but there was plenty to do. The problem was that they knew Deandre Washington was behind everything and did not have any way of proving it. After the excellent artwork someone had done on White Wesley, no one would be brave enough to come forward and provide any testimony.
Monday passed by quietly for the city of Huntington. The weekend violence was still the top story and the main topic around the water cooler, but the patrols did not have any problems. The city was still under alert but the amount of cops on each shift was cut back a little. They needed to be fresh for when they came back under siege. The question was ‘when’ that would be, not ‘if’.
In fact the city was quiet Monday. Kut did not make much money until late Monday night. He was lucky Maria called or else Deandre may have been pissed. Deandre had been on Kut’s back lately. Deandre told Kut that there were addicts on every corner in Huntington and if he was not selling it was because he was not trying. Yes, it appears even drug dealers have quotas.
He jumped out of her apartment building’s door and headed for his car. It was about two in the morning and he was tired. The good thing about Maria is that he got to mix business with pleasure. Their little romp had worn him out and he was ready for bed. He was thinking about making a quick stop at The Waffle House. A big stack of pancakes sounded good to him.
He was ready to open his car door when he was grabbed from behind. Three men dressed in black and wearing black masks had a hold of him. Shoving him against the car, they removed the money and his weapon from him. They slammed him headfirst into his car four times. When he fell, they proceeded to beat every part of his body. “Tell your boss The HSP said hello!”
One of the men ransacked his car and found more merchandise. About thirty oxy 30’s were in a pill bottle and another pill bottle contained sixty xanex pills. The other man proceeded to kick Kut’s lifeless body. The last of the three grabbed a can of red spray paint and painted the words ‘Go Back to Detroit’ across the gray Toyota.
Kut slipped into a world of darkness. He woke up a few minutes later and his world was still spinning. He slowly got up and climbed into his car. He no longer had pancakes on his mind. He had more problems. How was he going to explain this to Deandre? The ninja looking bastards even took his gun. Kut was half-mad and half scared. It was not safe to walk the streets in Huntington even if you were a drug dealer. “What’s this town coming to?” He started cussing out loud. “no jobs for an honest living and no you can’t even make a dishonest living. Oh well. I probably won’t have to worry about living when Deandre finds out about this.”
Donte Carter was on his way to Britney James’ room. He had heard she was improving. He needed to see that for himself. He needed some kind of good news. In just a couple of hours he was going to help carry a box with his lifelong best friend inside of it. He had seen his friend’s face nearly every day for twenty years. He was never going to see that face alive again. This was going to be the hardest day of his life. He needed something. He thought he lost a girl he was very interested in on Friday. He saw his best friend executed on Saturday. His friend’s blood splattered on his shirt.
Now, it looked like he may not lose the girl. He needed her to be okay. He could not stand any more heartbreak right now. The loss of two friends in one weekend would be too much for him to stand.
Matt James was standing outside of Britney’s room. He smiled at Donte as he approached and said, “Donte, the suit looks great on you, but you look like hell. Have you slept at all the last few days?”
“Not very much at all, Sir; it was the worst weekend of my life.”
“I understand. It was my worst weekend, too. She’s doing better, though. She hasn’t said much, just mumbled. She’s sedated. The doctor says she should make a full recovery physically. Mentally may take longer. Obviously she’s been through a lot.”
“Anything I can do, Sir, just let me know. She’s a good friend. I want to help her all I can.”
“Let me cut through the awkwardness, Donte. I’ve heard a lot about you this weekend from several different people. Everyone says you’re a great kid. Not that I’m checking up on you.” He chuckled, and then continued. “Well, maybe I am. But after what happened to her you can’t really blame me.”
Donte shook his head in agreement. “I understand. I would do the same if she was my daughter.”
“I just don’t want you to feel awkward around me. If you’re a friend of Brit’s, that means a lot to me. But, in light of what happened, I am going to have to start checking up on her more. I really think you have good intentions, Donte.”
“I do. I care about Brit. I know you’ve heard a lot of things about Terrell. But, well, it’s hard to understand, I guess, but Terrell would never hurt anyone. We were raised a little different. You learn to hustle on the block. We grew up around things that Britney didn’t grow up around. I mean, Terrell chose to do drugs. I chose not to do them. It’s hard to understand but Terrell never would have hurt Brit. He died because he wanted to face down the animals that did this to her.”
“I know, Donte. I’m sorry about what happened to Terrell. I wouldn’t have let Brit go around Terrell if I knew about him dealing but I certainly never would have wished what happened on him.”
“He was a good guy. I spent most of my life with him. His family was like my family. Today is going to be awful. The funeral home was terrible last night. That’s the main reason why I came to see Brit today; I just need some hope or something.”
“Well, Donte, she doesn’t look good. But, the important thing is she is going to make it. I thought I lost her Friday night. I really did. She’s going to be okay. I just know she is. It’s going to be tough, but her mother and I are going to help her get back to her old self.”
They walked into the room. Britney’s face was swollen and bruised. The two men thought she still looked like an angel despite the horrific experience she had suffered through on Friday night. The men watched her. Donte asked if Matt cared if he said a prayer for her. Matt said he would be happy if he did. The two men joined in prayer then they shook hands and Donte left.
The funeral service for Terrell Jones was very crowded. The people that did not know Terrell thought he was just a no good drug dealer. There were many people at the funeral that would testify that he was so much more. He was a great son, a great brother, and a great friend. He wore the tag – ‘wanna- be gangster’ in many people’s eyes, but the people who truly knew Terrell Jones knew he was a kind person who would do anything to help a friend.
Terrell Jones’ legacy would be forever divided. To some he was a poison and a detriment to his community. To others, he was a young man who was tragically taken before his time and he would be forever loved and missed by many. Donte Carter knew there had been good in his friend. Donte Carter was dying on the inside. He would miss the gentle side of Terrell that only his close friends and family knew. Those who would judge Terrell would not know the whole story.
The service was full of love, but afterwards, the pain and anger were evident. Angry words were spoken in the parking lot. There was hurt over statements that were being said about Terrell all over town. The people who said these things did not know the Terrell that these people knew. The people who watched Terrell grow up were offended by what they referred to as ‘ignorant comments.’ The community was a long way from healing. The block was filled agony and rage.
Huntington was still not itself Tuesday night. There were not any violent episodes but there was still fear and anger. The Mayor has issued statements that the whole city was saddened by the loss of the three men. But the truth was that there was a strange kind of hostility in the air. No one wanted to speak of race but the hostility came from race. The black community was hurting. They had lost three of their own.
The Fairfield community had watched these boys run around in diapers. They watched these boys board the school bus. They watched these boys play high school football. They watched these boys play basketball on the streets and playgrounds of their community. They watched them teach the youth of their community how to play sports just like the community had taught them. These boys went to school, to church, and on dates in full view of the community.
But other parts of Huntington did not know these men. They heard they were killed in a bar over drugs. It was a faceless crime to these people. They were just names in a newspaper or on television. Rude comments were made that the public was spared the costs of supporting these men in jails someday.
The Mayor did what he had to do with his talk of unity. He gave the public relations speech that would have been taught in Mayoring 101 if there was such a class. But the plain and simple truth was that Huntington was not hurting, The Fairfield community was hurting. They were not hurting in Pea Ridge and they were not hurting in West Moreland. But on Hal Greer Boulevard there was indeed great pain and suffering.
It angered some in the Fairfield community that the Mayor could act like the whole town was mourning. The truth was the only part of town that buried some of their own was The Fairfield community. No one had the right to say they understood how the south side of town felt.
Most of Huntington was no longer mad about the events of the past weekend by Tuesday night. Sure, some of the residents rued how bad Huntington had become and made sure they locked the doors and perhaps even loaded their guns. Some would not even venture out into the streets at night for a while. But the Fairfield community was angry. They wanted change.
John Ross decided it was time to vacation outside of his house. He lounged at AJ’s Bar with his best friend Bud in front of him. He had spent the night before at home with a case of Budweiser. He enjoyed the tranquility but now he craved female companionship. Several people bought John ice cold Budweisers and shots of Jack. They congratulated him on his fine police work. They told him they were thankful they had someone like him protecting them.
John had just opened his seventh beer when someone pulled out the stool next to him and sat down.
“No one is sitting here, are they?” John heard the female voice and turned to see a girl in her twenties sitting there.
“Not bad at all,” he said to himself. “A little too much makeup but it wouldn’t be a bad thing if we got to be good friends.” He smiled and then said out loud. “No, I think they left. Would you like a drink?”
“Sure, an ice cold Budweiser like yours would be great. Thanks.” She smiled and then asked, “Aren’t you that police officer that saved all of those people at The New Warehouse the other night?”
John tried to look bashful, “Well, I am a police officer. I was just doing my job though.” John had been acting modest lately. Acting was the key word because John Ross liked to brag. He was proud of what happened Saturday night. It was war. It was survival. It all came down to the basic instincts of kill or be killed. It was not anything personal but if you pull a gun on someone you better be prepared to pull a trigger or die. John acted like he was scarred because he pulled the trigger. The truth is he knew he won this time. The next time he may not be so lucky. The next body bag may be one for him. “It is just the way it is when you are a cop”, John thought. He said to himself, “You have to enjoy victories. In this business, you may never know that you lost. You don’t even hear the bullet. Just a quick pain and then nothing.”
“Well, we are very lucky to have someone like you on our side. You are a very brave man.”
“Well, no cop ever wants to use his gun. I’m just glad no one else got hurt. My name is John. John Ross. “
“Nice to meet you John. I can’t wait to tell everyone I met you. You are all everyone is talking about. You are a true hero.”
“Well, who am I having the pleasure of speaking with?”
“My name is Tina. Thanks for the beer. I will be right back; I have to go to the little girl’s room.”
“You’re welcome. I’ll be right here.” John watched the girl walk off. He was thinking how nice and round her ass was. “That would be a nice spanking ass,” he said to himself.
The girl returned about five minutes later. She was talking on her cell phone. She looked at John and smiled, “Someone wants to talk to you.”
John looked surprised and took the phone thinking she had been telling one of her friends that she met the cop that was on the news.
“Hey Hero, how’s it hanging?” The male voice on the other line said.
“Who is this?’ John asked.
“This is your old friend Deandre. Great shooting the other night.”
“The one and only.”
“Well, Mr. Washington,” John was so shocked, he was almost speechless. He could not believe Deandre was calling him. “There’s a lot of people wanting to talk to you.”
“Well, there’s a lot of people wanting to talk to you. My friend Mardy can hardly wait. He says you’ll have a good time. You’ll be smiling from ear to ear, he says.”
“Well, I have a nice present for Mardy. A nice shiny set of bracelets.” John knew better than to rile up professional killers. He knew very well that he should leave well enough alone. He was already on the top of the hit list for killing two of Deandre’s men. He could tell Mardy loved the smell of blood. It was like John was teasing a vampire.
“Whoa, nice comeback again John. I should know better than to fire comments at you, shouldn’t I? You’re right on target again.” If there was one thing Deandre really hated, it was a cocky cop. He knew this runt of a police man was out in a bar trying to use his newly found heroism to score a piece of ass. It really annoyed him that Ross thought he could stop him and his gang.
“Well, Deandre. Why don’t we meet and have this conversation at the station?”
“Well, John Boy. That would be kinda hard. I’m out of town at the moment. It seems like I have a sudden couple of funerals to attend up here in Detroit.”
“Well, we can certainly make arrangements to meet at the station at your earliest convenience.”
“Now answer me this, John. Why does every one want to talk to me?”
“I think you know the answer better than I do.”
“Now, what did I do, John?”
“Ask Mardy if you can’t remember.”
“John, I left Mardy after we left the bar. I do not have any clue what Mardy did. I think you need to talk to Mardy.”
“Well, believe me, Deandre. There are lots of people standing in line to talk to Mardy AND Remy.”
“Well John, whatever those two boys did is between you and them. I did nothing and nobody can get me for anything.”
“I suppose you didn’t give any orders out?”
“Well, I suppose it’s gonna be kinda hard to prove your supposing.” Deandre had been having fun, but this ignorant cop was starting to bore him. “Whose idea were the vigilantes?”
“I have no idea what you are talking about.”
“The vigilantes who beat and robbed my men.”
“Seriously, that’s the first I’ve heard. Did you call the police?”
“Yeah, Playa, I asked for you but they said you were on vacation.”
“Was there really a vigilante attack?”
“Yes, Johno, there really was a vigilante attack.”
“We can all meet at the station and you can fill out a report and we’ll get to the bottom of it.”
“You and Mardy can discuss your plans when he comes and sees you. You boys can do whatever makes your little hearts happy. Oh, by the way, Mardy sends his love. I’m not afraid of ninjas or whatever those guys wearing black are supposed to be. But be warned, they do it again and your lil’ hick town better have plenty more body bags. Have a good night, Johnny, and don’t get a DUI.”
John Ross heard a click and gave the phone back to Tina. Tina Rollins smiled and walked out the door. “Guess I can forget about smacking that ass,” John groaned to himself.
John pulled out his phone and called the Lieutenant in charge and told him of the conversation. Everyone at the station was baffled at the mention of vigilantes. The question of the hour was if Deandre was making it up or was there really vigilantes attacking his men?
Danita and Teresa just walked out of the house on 11th Avenue and 17th street. Baby Blue walked into the bathroom. He was tired. It was about two in the morning, time to call it a night and shut down the business until tomorrow afternoon. Rock was still out making some deals. It was Wednesday night and Baby Blue figured he’d stopped by one of the clubs on the way home.
Baby Blue made sure the door was locked. Deandre warned about vigilantes being on the prowl. Baby Blue had something for the vigilantes. He had a nice 9mm with extra clips loaded and waiting for any unwelcomed visitors.
He had just walked into the bathroom when he heard a noise out front. Baby Blue whipped open the bathroom door and swung out into the hall with his weapon drawn. He lunged to the corner of the hall and jumped into the living room ready to spray the room with fire.
“Whoa! Whoa, Dawg!” Rock laughed. “Little jumpy tonight! Chill, Bro, put that damn thing away.”
“Sorry, Bro.” Baby Blue smiled sheepishly as he put his weapon back in his pocket.
Just then the front door was kicked open. Three men dressed in black barged into the room, with guns drawn. The first vigilante yelled, “Don’t even think about it!”
Baby Blue did more than think about it. He made his move. Reaching back into his pants pocket he pulled out his weapon. Baby Blue was not fast enough, the vigilante fired first. The bullet struck Baby Blue in his right hand. He dropped his weapon.
Rock jumped at a vigilante to his left. The vigilante was watching the other vigilante shoot Baby Blue and was caught off guard. Rock was on top of him when the third vigilante shot and knocked Rock backward. Rock was not going down. The six foot 5, 260 pound man rushed back forward. The second shot jolted him back again.
Baby Blue made another move toward his weapon. The first vigilante shot him in the head. The vigilante that had been attacked by Rock wanted in on the action. He squeezed the trigger of his gun and sent a bullet through Rock’s head.
“Check their pockets. We gotta find the stash and get the hell out. Neighbors had to hear the shots.” Working fast they ransacked the house. Two of the group had been outside keeping guard and spray painting the house. They came in with their weapons drawn after they heard gunfire. The first vigilante yelled, “We should torch the place!”
“Too risky,” the second vigilante countered. “The neighbors would get scared. This will only work as long as no one innocent gets hurt.”
The men found a small stash of pills and cash but could not wait any longer. The neighborhood was jumpy and someone may have called the police when they heard shots fired. But sorties of the vigilantes had spread throughout the neighborhood. Hoping it had been the vigilantes firing, the neighbors waited before calling 911. Martha Cooper from next door looked out and observed a man dressed in black on the lawn keeping guard. She went back to bed. “Someone needed to take control of the neighborhood,” she thought to herself. If the police could not stop them perhaps these vigilantes that she had heard about could.
The vigilantes rounded up what merchandise and money they could find quickly. They left their calling card: “Go Back To Detroit” spray painted on the house. Using one of the dead men’s cell phones, one of the vigilantes called 911 to announce there was a present for the police from the HSP – The Huntington Southside Protectors.
Sirens quickly filled the night. Three patrol cars arrived at the scene. Rick Perry arrived shortly after the patrol. His hair was sticking up and the officers could tell he was in the middle of a deep sleep when he was called. The Huntington Police force was anticipating round two of the war with Detroit and they were not taking any chances.
“What a damn mess!” Rick Perry confirmed. “I ain’t never seen anything like this. None of the neighbors witnessed this, huh? I mean they all heard shots but didn’t look out the windows?’
“That’s right.” Tony Bernard answered. “We have a few people who came over to see what was goin’ on. But nobody seen anything at all. After White Wesley, no one wants to talk.”
“With the house ransacked, this obviously looks like a robbery that went wrong. “
“The writing though,” Tony commented. “The HSP must be some sort of vigilante group.”
“That’s all we need now, someone interfering with our investigations. We’re trying to prevent a war and someone is instigating one. All this crap is going to do is bring Deandre’s men back.”
“Eight dead bodies in less than a week,” Tony said shaking his head. “I’d hate to have your job.”
“Bad thing about it is we haven’t made any arrests,” Rick said. He was painfully aware that the press would soon be pointing out that police had not solved the murders, the rape, or even the Go Mart shootings. Once, the press started then the public would start and there would be pressure from the top of the department to make arrests.
Perry hated the idea of vigilantes. The presence of Charles Bronson or Spiderman would only spur the press to turn these lawbreakers into legends. A vigilante would capture the hearts of the public and mean front page headlines for reporters. The area was looking for a hero. A mysterious hero could see thousands of papers and get people to turn their television channels from Fox News to Channel 13. Heck, Geraldo Rivera may even come to town to broadcast about Huntington’s new revenge seeking heroes. Just what Rick Perry needed, more reporters coming to town to tell the world that Rick was not doing his job. Rick knew his job was not just to file reports and look for clues; his job was to put people in cages. He had to provide job security for the judicial system. They may let them go, but they had to have someone to put on trial.
Now, on top of Deandre’s gang, Rick had to find out who the vigilantes were because the vigilantes, despite how much the public may come to love them, were now officially murderers. They had killed two men. No matter what crimes the men had committed, no one had the authority to shoot them. Whoever was playing the judge and jury by deciding that Deandre’s men were guilty, were now setting themselves up to be judged. These men may well find themselves in the same prison as the men who killed White Wesley.
“Chief’s goin’ to flip his lid.” Rick commented to Tony. “Just when we had two peaceful nights, the crap is starting up in time for the weekend. Deandre’s men will be back out this weekend. “
“Guess I better not make any plans for this weekend,” Tony said. “Guess we’ll all be on the front lines this weekend.”
“Yeah, the taxpayers are going to love all of this overtime. They want protection but they don’t want to pay for it.”
The DEA agent assigned to The Huntington Police Department, Mike Perkins, arrived on the scene. Perkins walked up to Perry and said unbelievably. “Now they’re sayin’ we have a vigilante?’
“Vigilantes. A group apparently calling themselves The Huntington Southside Protectors.”
“Or the HSP.” Troy McCarthy, a detective for The Crimes Against Property division walked up and interrupted. He continued, “We are getting reports of signs and graffiti placed tonight that just says “Huntington Southside Protectors,” “No Drug dealing Zone” and my personal favorite: HSP Are Watching You.”
“Jesus Christ,” Perkins moaned. “These idiots are going to be worse than the criminals. And what is going to make it worse is that these clowns don’t even realize they are now criminals. If they keep it up they will be serial killers.”
“Yeah, they think they are the solution but they are part of the problem,” Perry noted. “They start out trying to help but end up doing it for the glory they think they are getting. The media turns them into stars and the psychotics start trying to please the media’s demand for stories.”
“Yeah, vigilantes are like trying to solve a mice problem by bringing in a bunch of cats,” Perkins offered. “Pretty soon the cats are shitting everywhere and eating all of the food and are more trouble than the mice were.”
Perry shook his head, “These guys know a little about what they are doing. They didn’t leave any major clues. Guess I’ll have to round up people with motives. Could be anyone, though. Could be concerned citizens, could be neighborhood youth, and it could be Jones’s family or even the father of the girl that got raped. He pretty much made himself a suspect at the press conference.”
Mike Perkins walked around the crime scene and stared at the crowd of local residents that were gathered around and watching the police at work. Crowds were following the ambulances and police cars and parking down the street and standing in the neighboring yards and watching. The crowd had swollen to over fifty people. “The public doesn’t feel threatened by vigilantes because they think they are on their side. The problem is in vigilante situations, these people may very well know who did this and don’t want them to be caught. In fact, the killers may be out there in the crowd watching us right now.”
By Thursday afternoon, HSP-mania had hit Huntington with the same force the vigilantes had hit their targets. The whole town was buzzing. Radio talk shows were chatting up the vigilantes all morning. Chief Mike Beal was a guest on The Eric Rice Show and declared that the vigilantes were bad for Huntington and they would be prosecuted for murder.
The internet trumpeted the heroics of the men in black. Topix.com was full of threads that supported the outlaw group. Those who were against them were ridiculed and scorned.
Network news crews even came into Huntington. Word was that Nancy Grace was following the story and was going to report on it that evening. She had sent reporters into Huntington.
Local television crews interviewed residents who mainly told that the vigilantes made them feel safe because ‘they knew that someone was watching their backs.” Other residents said ‘the HSP could do things that police could not do.” They said if the vigilantes dealt with the thugs then there would be no need for trials.
A local vendor started selling HSP t-shirts. The shirts also came with the slogan – “The HSP Is Watching You.” They also marketed shirts that said “Drug Dealers Go Back To Detroit.”
A group of students at Huntington High School mimicked the vigilantes by attacking a drug dealing fellow student and sent him to the hospital. The school vigilantes learned of swift justice as they were expelled and arrested for assault.
Then, two of the most amazing things happened. First, Deandre Washington pulled his men out of Huntington. The drug dealers packed up and headed out to Detroit.
Second, Rick Perry received word that he needed to talk to someone who called the station. The man would only talk to the detective in charge of the Wesley Parks case.
“Rick Perry.” Rick answered.
“The Detroit thugs left today. I watched some of them pack and leave. The vigilantes saved Huntington.”
“This call was supposed to be about The Wesley Parks murder.”
“I saw who murdered Wesley Parks. I walked by the alley that night. Two guys had him in the alley.”
Rick’s heart started to race. Was this finally the break he needed or was it some sort of twisted prank? “Who did you see?”
“There was a big black dude walking down one side of the alley.”
The caller paused and Rick asked nervously, “Who was with him?”
“A guy named Deandre Washington.”
“Are you sure?”
“Yes, I had been drinking at Doug’s and walked out not long after Wesley. In fact, I had drunk with Wesley. I came out and I saw Deandre go at the other end of the alley and walk down toward him.”
“Did you see him cut Wesley?”
“I saw Deandre cut him in the chest and then I just ran. It was dark but I could see Deandre with the knife. I ran. I was scared. I liked Wes. He was my friend.”
“Who is this?” There was silence. Rick became nervous. “I need your name. Listen, your town needs you. If we put out this on Deandre, we can get him off the streets for good. At the very least, he may leave for good and not come back. We need you, without you, Deandre is free to hurt other people.”
“My name is Shaun Michaels. If the vigilantes can fight the thugs, I can, too. This is my town and I’m going to help them make it safe”
“Thanks Shaun. You are a great help. I want to come where you are and bring you down to the station.”
Shaun Michaels agreed to have Rick Perry bring him into the station. Finally a break in the case. Rick could not contain his excitement. He ran through the station. He spied Captain Morris and yelled, “We got something on Deandre. I got a witness who places him in the alley with Wesley. We’re gonna get him. We’re going to get him!”
John Ross sat at the bar at six o’clock watching the media frenzy concerning the vigilantes continue. He was amazed that the introduction of vigilantes had helped turn the tides of war against the drug dealers. It had been a crazy week indeed.
The investigation of John had been completed and his psychiatric evaluation was finished. The investigation concluded it had been a justified shooting. He passed his evaluation and would likely be reinstated within the next week. For now, he was enjoying his vacation. His celebrity status as hero cop earned him a couple of sexual adventures this week. Now, he and his buddy Bud were at AJ’s getting ready to enjoy what should be an uneventful weekend. To the weary Huntington area, boredom was very much welcomed.
Several developments had taken place. A warrant for the murder of Wesley Parks was issued for Deandre Washington. Known Detroit drug dealers had packed up and headed back north. Vigilantism had sprung up across Huntington. Actually, as Huntington gained national recognition for the effort of its citizens to take back their streets, vigilantism had spread throughout the south.
Several local watchdog groups were in the process of forming and policing their neighborhood. A group of concerned citizens in the West End of Huntington attacked and beat a group of white drug dealers that were actually local natives. Huntington was on its way to no tolerance of drug dealing and crime. The city residents were taking it upon themselves to oust crimes. It was an amazing reversal from just a week ago. After Wesley Parks was murdered, the town went silent. Now, suddenly drug tip lines were getting dozens of calls. The Huntington Drug Force Task Unit made over a dozen arrests in the past week.
Police Chief Mike Beal had cautioned against the rise of vigilantism. He called for residents to let the police department do its job. He appreciated all of the information the department had received this week. He asked that people help by calling the police and giving information but he tried to discourage citizens from taking the law into their own hands.
With Deandre being the key suspect in Wesley’s murder, Mardy and Remy the key suspects in the assault of Britney James, and the investigations of the shooting incident at The New Warehouse closed, Rick Perry turned his attention to the vigilante murders of Rock and Baby Blue. Even if he did discover the identities of the vigilantes, he was not sure if the public wanted them brought to justice or not. The HSP were still the darlings of the local and now national media.
Rick Perry spotted Matt James in the lobby at St. Mary’s Hospital. He approached him with a smile and extended his hand. “Mr. James, how is your daughter doing?” The two shook hands.
Minor improvements, but at least there have been improvements. She’s awake some but she doesn’t talk. Still feeling the effects of the stress, I guess.”
“Still, it does look like she will make a full recovery, right?”
“That’s what doctors are hoping. They do not see any long lasting physical problems, but mentally may be another thing.”
“Well, she seems to have people around her to support her and help her along the way. That’s the most important thing. Hey, Matt, we were wondering if you had time to come down to the station for a little while for a briefing. We want to go over all of the developments in your case.”
“Sure, how about if I meet you down at the station in an hour?”
“Sounds good, see you there in an hour.”
Matt James arrived at the station and followed Rick Perry back to a room where they met Mike Perkins. Chris offered Matt a seat on one side of a table and he and Perkins sat on the other side facing Matt.
Rick started talking first, “Matt, I don’t know if you’ve met Mike Perkins but he is a DEA agent working on the case with us. This case is something like I’ve never seen. It just keeps overlapping departments. We have rape, murder, and drugs and all of the suspects are intertwined.”
Matt nodded at Perkins and Perkins nodded back. Rick continued, “You may be happy to learn we have warrants out on Reginald “Remy” Watson and Melvin “Mardy” Gibson for assaulting your daughter. We have officers on the Detroit force looking for them as we believe that all of the Detroit guys have returned to their home. We have a warrant out for the leader, Deandre Washington. We believe he is responsible for the murder of Wesley Parks. Now, we know it’s harder to get these guys once they leave here because they disappear either on the streets of Detroit or turn up in other cities.”
Matt nodded and asked, “Do you think they’ve left here for good?”
“I doubt it. I mean not as a whole. Mardy and Remy probably won’t return because they are known and wanted. Washington really isn’t needed here because he rarely gets his hands dirty. The Parks case was a rare time he did that. Must have been hungry for blood. Now, we are certain other guys will come down, quite simply because business is too good.”
“So you think Huntington is back to normal?” Matt asked, as he began to wonder why he was here if there were not any new developments in Britney’s case.
“No, not really,” Perkins jumped in. “As you have heard we have a new set of criminals known as vigilantes.”
“I’ve heard about them. Most of the people around here are calling them heroes. They’re saying they saved Huntington from Detroit.”
“Well, Mr. James, murder is murder.” Rick Perry said. “Even John Ross has to answer for his actions at the club. He’ll be okay but no has the right to just shoot someone. Ross was justified because his was self-defense so he’ll be okay. But these men in black are just walking into people’s houses and shooting them.”
“Whoa! I get it, you think I’m one of them,” Matt sat up in the chair.
“Well, you have to admit, after the little speech you gave at the press conference, wouldn’t you suspect you?” Perry inquired sitting up as well.
“If you guys would do your job and bring in the men who raped my daughter, this city may not have gotten so worked up.”
“Is that some kind of confession?” Perry asked.
“What the hell you talking about? You’ve got a lot of nerve after all my family has been through to suggest that I’m in on this. I have barely left the hospital!”
“Can anyone at the hospital verify you were there during the times the crimes were committed?” Perry wondered.
“Hell, I don’t even know what times the crimes were committed. I just hear bits and pieces. They probably could but I go get something to eat and walk around from time to time.”
Perkins stepped in, “Now, Mr. James, we are not picking on you, we have to ask everyone that we think could have a motive.”
“Half this town has a motive. Maybe it was Jones’ brother or family? Maybe it was his friend Donte. Hell, maybe even his damn grandmother is doing it. Anyone that ever met Terrell has a motive. Anyone who cares about this town has a motive. The police have given these thugs free reign so long that people have gotten fed up and decided to take matters in their own hands. You oughta be happy they are doing your job for you.” Matt was riled up and on a roll. “Don’t forget, two other boys beside Jones were killed. Don’t the brothers that got killed have family?”
“Nobody is accusing you, Matt.” Perkins remarked. “If we don’t ask everyone that has a motive then we wouldn’t be doing our job.”
“Well, you are going to be asking a lot of people. Hell, the owner of the Herald Dispatch has motive. Look at the papers he has sold. You gonna bring him in here? What about the guy selling HSP t-shirts, he’s getting rich off of this. Isn’t that motive?”
“C’mon, Matt, you’re getting ridiculous,” Rick Perry sighed. “So there’s nothing you want to tell us.”
“Am I now a suspect?” Matt James asked springing to his feet. He was just about tired of this. “Should I call a lawyer?”
“Settle down, Mr. James, of course not.” Perkins said trying to calm him down. He did not want Matt James, who is a very sympathetic figure in Huntington right now, going around telling people he was being accused of murder. “Just keep your ears and eyes open and if you see or hear anything let us know. People may confide in you because of the circumstances and while you may think they are doing you a favor, just keep in mind that murder is murder and a killer is a killer. Period.”
The meeting broke up and Matt stormed out of the station clearly aggravated. Perkins and Perry looked at each other. “He seemed a little defensive to me. Like we hit a nerve or something.” Perry remarked.
“Well, his daughter just got out of a coma after being brutally raped and beaten. I probably would have gone berserk by now myself, if it had happened to my family. I don’t think he has it in him to be a killer though.” Perkins rationalized.
“Anger and revenge can make people do things that no one thought they’d ever do. Some people just keep it pent up until they think their violence is justified. I’m not saying he’s in on it. But I’m not ready to say he isn’t.” Perry took a drink of coffee and then continued. “If a bunch of people wanted to approach someone they thought would go along with it, his name would be on the top of a list.”
By Saturday evening, the media had changed their focus. When the vigilantes first hit the news, they had started out merely reporting on the vigilantes that were avenging Huntington. Then, they were heralding the HSP’s victory over the Detroit drug dealers. They chronicled how the gangsters packed up and headed back to Detroit.
The vigilantes were hailed as heroes. T-shirts and signs were spotted around Huntington much like a home team’s city celebrates their team’s championship. Huntington had a new gang of heroes. The Huntington Southside Protectors were the toast of Huntington.
When Friday arrived and there was not any new adventure of the HSP for the media to report on, the media started debating if the HSP were heroes or criminals. The network news channels each had lively debates discussing if Huntington’s vigilantes should be hailed or hunted. Legal experts and network news personalities lively batted the topic back and forth.
Now on Saturday, the media had turned again. They wanted to know who the vigilantes were. This was the only angle left in the story. Who were these people who dressed up in black and sprung out of the shadows?
This posed a problem for the members of HSP. The media, which started out as their buddies and thrust them into the national spotlight, were now placing them in a dangerous position. The hunt was on. Rewards were being offered for information that identified who the vigilantes were. It’s not that the media wanted them to stand trial. The media was trying to create the news. If they found out who the members were then their story could continue.
The media did not care what happened to their heroes. As soon as their identities would be revealed then the police would sweep them off to jail then to court and then likely life in prison for the members that were responsible for the murders.
As the words ‘murders’ and ‘life in prison’ started being mentioned in newscasts, newspapers, and websites, the residents who claimed that the vigilantes saved the city and proclaimed them heroes started to turn away from the vigilante group. As the media coverage went from super-positive to negative, the HSP were transformed from envied heroes to an almost terrorist organization.
The media had gained all they could off of the stars they had created and now were ready to ravage their bones for more stories.
The Huntington Police Department had been searching for the identity of the HSP since the news that vigilantes were on the loose had been reported. Rick Perry and Mike Perkins had interviewed several people they had considered to be possible suspects. Besides Matt James, they had interviewed Donte Carter and several brothers and cousins of Terrell Jones and the West brothers.
With the news of the Detroit’s gang’s departure, Huntington was back to feeling safe again. The residents who had stayed indoors all week were suffering from cabin fever and were ready to venture out Saturday evening.
Police Chief Mike Beal was not very worried about the situation. His officers needed a break and his budget needed to get rid of the overtime that attacked his payroll even though the streets were empty all week. There was not any news about Deandre Washington coming from the informants who had poked their head out of their holes once the gang left. There was not any news coming out of Detroit either. Deandre Washington had gone in to hiding since his name was placed on a warrant for murder.
Matt James left the meeting with Brenda’s doctor and therapist with a very positive feeling. He learned a lot about addiction. Brenda met with them as well. Her attitude had a near miraculous turn around in the last few days. Her confidence had soared after working with her new therapist Dr. Lake. Dr. Regina Lake, female therapist, taught her how to deal more effectively with her pain. She helped her create a schedule of physical activities to keep Brenda engaged and active.
In the beginning sessions, they dwelled on the negative aspects of Brenda’s addiction. The pain and difficulty (including financial difficulty) that her addiction had caused. Brenda realized all of the beautiful things that she would love to have that she could have bought instead of drugs.
Matt also came to realize that most of the pain she was suffering was due more withdrawal than due to pain caused by actual injuries. The first sessions were hard work because they got to the root of the problem. The root of the problem is addiction but ‘blame’ always gets mentioned. When ‘blame’ is mentioned, the argument gets personal. The parties involved get defensive and the whole process gets ugly.
Now, the sessions had gotten easier. There is real hope at stake now. They have agreed to put the pain in the past. The past will not be mentioned. The future will be about hope. They have a game plan and Brenda had a support system made up of Matt, Britney when she gets better, her doctors, and her peers which she will meet by attending meetings. The road will not be easy but at least the James are prepared to face it together.
Matt left the meeting and the hospital with a positive feeling. He felt that way about Huntington as well. He had come up with a plan to bring the injured communities together. He was going to help rid Huntington of the negative aspects, but instead of violence, he was going to use hope. Huntington residents were going to have put it’s hard feelings and mistakes behind them. They would have to get past the blame and work together against the problem.
He was going to find Donte Carter and try to get him involved. Perhaps Donte and his community could turn their hurt into hope and all of the communities of Huntington could work together against all drug dealers, not just Detroit thugs.
They would start with awareness. They would try to make the whole community see what is at stake. He thought Huntington knew good and well after the war. Then, they could get everyone working toward a solution. Instead of vigilante violence, the community would have a watch group that would report to the police.
Hope – both problems involved hope. Brenda’s future and Huntington’s future depend on hope.
Sunday morning started with hope. Britney James started talking. She asked to see Donte. She was suffering from a great deal of pain. She still was a long way from being the Britney of old. It was hope. Matt James would grab onto the hope and run with it.
Just as the word started getting around Huntington that Britney was talking, an ominous site rolled in off of Route 23 in Ohio. A huge caravan of over twenty cars entered into Huntington. Several cars had Michigan license. Some cars had multiple passengers. The gang was back!
The caravan drove all over Huntington to let everyone know their peace was over. The thugs had more soldiers than ever. They had reloaded their weapons and drugs and were more prepared to rule Huntington then ever.
Residents lined up on the streets and watched the caravan. The gangsters blasted loud music, laughed, and waved at the onlookers. The citizens were stunned. They did not know if it was a parade or an invasion. After the gangsters little show, they went back to the homes they had abandoned earlier in the week and restarted their businesses.
An emergency meeting was called at the police station. The detectives had been working on the case, city council members and other influential members of Huntington all came. Mayor Tom Samples walked into the room and looked around. As he turned back around, he was face to face with Police Chief Mike Beal who was entering the room.
Samples was excited and blurted, “Mike, what are you going to do?” It was easy to see that the mayor was at the panic stage. Several other of the people were noticeably nervous. It was like the German Nazi troops led by Hitler himself rolled into town.
“Calm down. Calm down.” Beal urged. “I’ve got extra officers coming in. I’ve got the Drug Task Force Unit monitoring the situation and hoping we can get some arrests.”
“Are you calling a press conference?” Councilman Dan Evert asked as he stared at Mike Beal. “I mean, the public is scared to death. The streets are clearing out like there’s going to be a big shootout.”
Beal cautioned, “Everyone just needs to stay calm. No point getting people worked up. If they want to stay inside then that is their choice and it makes our jobs easier. No, we can’t have a press conference. We are going to look like the biggest rednecks in the world if we panic in front of the cameras because black people are taking a Sunday drive. We are prepared. All we can do is react to any situations. Unless of course we make a drug bust and then a war breaks out.”
Mayor Samples spoke up, “So basically there’s really nothing we can do at this time.” Samples was not sure if he was making a statement or asking a question. However, he did see how this could erupt into public relations nightmare if not handled right.
“Correct.” Beal confirmed. “There is nothing we can do unless we see Mardy, Remy, or Washington. Then we can arrest them because we have warrants for them. But if we harass anyone else in any way it is going to make us look bad. Please remember there are members of the media who would love to turn this into a racial squabble. It is most certainly not a racial battle. It is police vs criminals.”
“Just remember,” Samples chipped in, “They are not criminals until we have something on them. We do not want to violate anyone’s civil rights or do anything to bring lawsuits against the city.”
Rick Perry chimed in, “This is about intimidation. We cannot flinch and make a mistake. This is like someone bluffing they are going to hit you and throwing a fake punch to goad you into a fight.”
“Yes, this might be a stunt to get us to make the wrong move. We will have drug units investigating and trying to make arrests. This may cause trouble but it will show the residents that we aren’t afraid. We intend to be very visible, we just cannot be looking like we are picking a fight.” Mike Beal was very concerned as he spoke. He tried not to show emotion but he was indeed worried. Tempers were flaring and even a citizen could make a move that instigate a war. He was secretly praying that the HSP stayed underground.
The doors opened and a woman poked her head in the door. “Mr. Beal, there are several reporters out here wanting statements.” She ducked back outside and closed the door.
Beal looked at the people in the room. “We cannot issue any statements at this time because nobody has done anything wrong. No laws have been broken. If anyone asks you this was not an emergency meeting.”
Beal hurried off to his office. Rick Perry followed him. Once they got there, Beal locked the door. “Have you gotten anywhere on the vigilante case?” Beal was nervous. He never liked the vigilantes but figured as long as no one got hurt it would all blow over. But now the idea of a three way war scared the hell out of him.
“No. No leads at all. I interviewed all of the logical witnesses including the James guy and did not get one dang clue.” Perry had never interviewed and worked so hard and got so little results. Either no one was talking or no one knew anything. The vigilantes knew what they were doing as they did not leave any clues.
“Well, we need a heavy presence the next few nights. It seems like the vigilantes are striking between one and four. How about getting a little sleep today and heading up a stakeout in that neighborhood the next few nights?”
“Was already thinking of that,” Perry smiled. Actually, he was lying but since the chief asked him to, he was going to have to do it so he figured he’d score some brownie points.
“Great. This could lead to a war or huge public embarrassment so we can’t botch this operation up. Grab a few guys from patrol and make a special unit. Take whoever you want. If you can find an empty building without anyone knowing you can rent it and set up a command center in the neighborhood. This could save lives, Rick. But, keep this unit under your hat. Do not let anyone else know you are building this unit. Work gets around too easy. This operation needs to stay between us two and the three guys you choose.”
“What about Ross?” Rick Perry inquired as he was not sure of his friend’s status.
“He won’t be reinstated until all of this blows over. He’s too close to it now. Leave him out.” Beal liked John Ross but if Ross killed another person even if it was a criminal, hard telling what would happen. There was very little margin for error on this operation. Beal just hoped he did not make a mistake by trusting it to the ‘blonde.’
Rick Perry recruited Mark Haines from city patrol and Scott Clark and Julian Perez from The SWAT Team to create a special unit that would stake out The Fairfield Community to keep a watch on the drug dealers and The Huntington Southside Protectors. They set up a stakeout of the neighborhood in a little white house on 19th Street and Artisan Avenue. The house was right in the middle of the block they were expecting the vigilantes to hit. There were drug dealers up and down the block on each side.
Perry was expecting trouble to strike soon. They had to hustle to get the house and everything set up for any action that may occur Sunday. It was almost ten o’clock Sunday evening when the Perry’s group got move into the house. Perry brought a television set but they did not have cable. The brought a few days of clothes and they each brought a lap top computer. Perry ran by Kroger and picked up a couple of days worth of food.
“Who wants an ice cold beer?” Perry said holding up a hot can of Big K Root Beer. “Sorry ‘bout that guys. I forgot this is official police business. All I got is some nice hot root beer. Good thing John Ross isn’t here, he’d be a mess goin’ a few days without beer.”
The others laughed. Haines was on his cell phone talking to his girl friend. He talked to her for about a half hour and then called and talked to his wife for about fifteen minutes. Then, he called a girl but he did not have an exact title for her. The group decided she was his hoe.
Julian Perez was nervous. He said he felt that action was near. He was not scared. He just had a little rush of adrenalin. He was reading a Sports Illustrated Magazine. It made Haines mad because it was not the swimsuit edition.
Scott Clark was on the internet. He got up and went in the kitchen and examined the bags of groceries that Perry had bought. He pulled out a bag of Kroger potato chips. “Damn, Perry! You recruit us on a top secret Dangerous mission and can’t even get us Frito Lay chips! Are we that unimportant or are you just that cheap?”
“Hey, you guys bust up this vigilante gang and the steaks are on me.” Perry said seriously as he crammed a day old Kroger donut in his mouth and chased it with root beer. “Well, I’ll at least get the chief to spring for it.”
“We’re fighting two groups of killers here. I’m not sure steaks are even enough.” Clark remarked as he got back on the internet. “Better at least come with a buttload of beer.”
“Buttload of beer? What the hell is a buttload of beer?” Perry asked incredulously. “I’m guess it’d have to be about one. I mean how many bottles can you fit up that big ass of yours?”
The guys laughed. Perez turned nervous again and asked, “So we just staying up to about five and then if nothin’ happens we just go to bed and get up and do it again?”
“We’ll just take it one day at a time. This is predominantly a night assignment. The vigilantes have only struck after midnight. You fellers can sleep some in the day but I’ve got work to do in the day.” Perry said as he walked to the window and looked out into the quiet night.
“Are we going to walk around and patrol or just sit here and wait for a call?” Perez wondered. “I mean if we go outside, won’t someone possibly recognize us?”
“Actually, the main reason I wanted us here is so we are real close to where action may be. We can go out and look to see what is going on but I figured we are close to where most of the drug dealers live and can get to where the action is while the shooting is still going on?” Perry said as he walked back into the kitchen and rummaged through the groceries.
“So the part doesn’t make sense to me,” Perez stated. “Is that we are going to wait until the druggies and the HSP are shooting it up and then have a three way gunfight?”
“Well,” Perry started as he opened up a box of Chips Ahoy, “Actually, the druggies have never gotten a shot off. So if we can get to the scene as soon as the incident is reported, then there is a possibility that the only group we will have to stop is The HSP. “
“So to me,” Clark said as he flipped from website to website. “It sounds like the plan is no plan.”
“We’ve got a winner!” Perry roared. “Here you go, buddy, you win a cookie.” Perry laughed as he threw the cop a Chips Ahoy. “We really don’t know what to expect. We just want to be on the scene as quick as possible. We have to try something. Nothing else is working. But, yeah maybe we will take a short ride or walk in a while and check things out.”
Perry walked over to the television and flipped on the 11 o’clock news. Let’s see what is going on around us. See if ol’ Chiefy made the news today.”
The night passed by peacefully. Occasionally a car would go by with music blaring and one of the guys would run to the window. They would take turns going out in pairs and either take a drive or a walk to see what they could see.
Scott Clark nodded off about two but Perry made a loud clapping noise by his head and scaring him back awake. About four in the morning there was a call. The vigilantes had struck. Two drug dealers were beaten and one was stabbed and taken to the hospital. But the violence occurred on the other side of town in Altizer.
“Damn it!” Perry yelled. “We missed them. Why Altizer?” Perry ran out to his car and headed to the crime scene.
The crime was not what he had expected. The men were local residents and did not appear to be Detroit drug dealers. Both of the victims were known local criminals. Both of the men were white which was different than the other victims.
“Did their stories check out? Any witnesses?” Perry asked Tony Bernard who was the officer on the scene.
“I get the feeling it wasn’t vigilantes. I think these guys were up to no good and got the crap kicked out of them.” Bernard said.
“False alarm?” Perry guessed. “Oh well, a perfect ending to the perfect night. At least no one got hurt.” Perry walked back to his car and headed back to the house. It could have been copycats as well, he told himself. He figured two more nights and then he call would the stakeout off. Monday was always the night he figured the action would happen. Sunday was too soon and the drug dealers were just back in town and were probably up late partying. Monday night they be tired and go to bed early. He figured anything could happen. After all, in this situation, the best plan was no plan.
Meanwhile, Sunday night was frustrating for Deandre Washington, as well. He had the feeling he was fighting two wars at the same time. One of the reasons, he pulled his men out of Huntington was because of troubles with a Detroit gang. But with all of the activities in Huntington, he felt he was in danger of losing his franchise. So when things cooled back down in Detroit, he sent his men back to Huntington to make more money and to settle the trouble there once and for all. But soon as his men left Michigan, the rival gang started again.
Heavy hated Deandre Washington. While Washington was suave and cool, Heavy was the complete opposite. Heavy at 5 foot 9 and about 300 pounds was a motorcycle enthusiast. His drugs paid for his fleet of toys. Heavy could be frequently seen cruising the streets of Detroit’s ghettos on his three wheeler. Heavy was as fearless as Deandre, but he had a touch of Mardy in him.
Heavy loved to perform. He was a budding rapper. He had his own recording studio. He never sold any cds because while he was a rapper, he was not necessarily a good rapper. He rapped about the streets of Detroit but he did it in generic fashion. His lyrics were not original and his beats were dated. His voice was slightly better than his looks and that was not exactly a compliment.
The only thing Heavy liked about his rival, was his rival’s territory and business model. He admired the way Deandre had set up franchises in small Applachian towns. Heavy long remarked that it was about time to take a motorcycle ride down into West Virginia. Heavy was just about ready for that ride. In fact, hearing that Marshall University’s Thundering Herd, wore green. He bought himself a green helmet. After all it was more than a helmet. It was his crown. He was about to crown himself The Drug King of Huntington. He had heard Deandre could not handle it. He heard his men got their ass kick by a bunch of West Virginia hillbillies.
The night Deandre ‘s men set off on their voyage to Huntington, Heavy’s men took a trip as well. Heavy’s gang visited Deandre’s side of town and later that night, Remy was found shot to death in an alley. This was the source of Deandre’s current aggravation. Which war to fight?
Deandre had a secret weapon on his side. This weapon could possibly allow him to fight and win two wars at one time. The ironic thing was Heavy helped create this weapon. This was certainly a weapon of mass destruction. The weapon was named ‘The Wrath of Mardy’. By killing Mardy’s best friend Remy, Heavy had unwittingly unleashed a weapon that granted no mercy.
Rick Perry walked outside for some fresh air. It was Monday night. This was the night, he just knew it. He could feel action in the air. The HSP had not struck in a while. They were thirsty for blood. Even more, they were thirsting for glory. They had lost their glamorous spotlight. With Huntington nervous about the reemergence of the Detroit hoods, the HSP could come rding in on their white horses and save the clichéd day. It was awful predictable to suggest that the vigilantes craved attention. But Rick Perry knew it was the truth. The HSP feasted on the adoration of their fans for a week. Now it was famine. The media’s roving camera shifts angles quickly and their lens had turned away from last week’s heroes. They had gone from heroes to wanted murders in just days. If they could rescue Huntington then they could reinvent themselves again.
Rick Perry was not sure how he knew all of this. He just knew that he know it. He did not have any idea of who the HSP were? But somehow he knew for some reason he could think like them. He felt like he had a common bond with them. He could not understand why, he just knew he did. And tonight, they would strike. He was as sure of this as he had been of anything in his life. A cop has a basic instinct. His told him that tonight was going to be an incredible night.
It was after two in the morning. There was a cool breeze blowing onto the porch. Julian Perez had just walked outside. At the moment Julian stepped onto porch, the breeze brought it’s gift. The gift of Rick Perry knowing he was right.
The first shot that Perry heard came from the vigilante that kicked the door of the gray wooden house about a block and a half down the street. The stocky leader dressed in black put foot to door and as the impact pried the door free, he went in with his gun drawn. When he was aware of the ambush he pulled the trigger. The shot went wide. His shot was immediately answered by a shot and a jolt that sent him backward.
As these shots were fired, Perry leaped off of the porch. Perez went back inside and motioned for the other two. Clark made a call to the station. The war had started.
The war was a slaughter. Four thugs turned from defense to offense. The second vigilante had already come in behind the first one. Automatic weapon fired sprayed the door way. The second vigilante was govered by ghetto spray. The third vigilante held his ground on the porch as the thugs with the automatic weapons advanced. The third vigilante was riddled with fire. The first vigilante who got shot somehow managed to wiggle his way back out the door without being hit in the crossfire. Three more vigilantes returned fire on the porch.
Sirens cut through the night. The thugs and the vigilantes engaged in a brutal firefight. Automatic weapons were discharged on both sides. The first vigilante escaped the line of fire. He had been hit in the chest with a pistol bullet. The bullet proof vest he was wearing softened some of the blow. He was still stunned. All he could hear was rapid fire and when looked up all he could see was dust from the wooden building as the spray glanced off of the building. Splinters and bullets filled the air.
Although the first vigilante was stunned, he knew to abort his mission. The attackers were ambushed as thugs had stood in the living room waiting for their attackers. The vigilantes outnumbered the thugs by seven to four. Only one vigilante abandoned his unit. He was running down the street unknowingly toward the house on 19th and Artisan. Rick Perry spied the vigilante before the vigilante got a glimpse of him. Perry pulled his weapon and commanded! “Stop! Huntington Police Department!”
The HSP warrior spun right and headed across a yard. The HPD detective gave chase. The vigilante was faster but in cutting through one yard he stumbled on a bicycle in the grass. He fell to his knees. Perry lost sight of the running me at first because of his black clothes blending in with the night. Then Perry caught sight of the man rise and begin to run again. The man stumbled again as Perry leaped over the bicycle. Perry accelerated and came within a few steps of the man.
The vigilante tried to surge forward but lost his balance and was staggered. Rick Perry lunged forward and brought the man tumbling down.
Meanwhile, the six remaining vigilantes fought valiantly to the end. They stood their ground and never retreated. They died as the rest of Perry’s team came charging down the street. Two of the drug dealers were killed and one was on the ground seriously wounded. The only drug dealer that was unscathed escaped out the back door and into the night.
Two patrol cars whirled up to the house as Perry’s men secured the building. The next big question was where was Rick Perry.
Perry had just brought the man down hard. As he landed on top of him he brought his weapon to the vigilante’s face. He ripped the mask off of the vigilante and his heart about stopped.
Rick Perry was looking straight into the eyes of John Ross. Perry did not have any idea of what to say. It never crossed his minfd that the vigilantes could be cops.
“You got to let me outta here. Do you hear the sirens? They’ll get me for murder. Let me go or just shoot me.”
Rick could not believe one of his best friends had stepped across the line. He tried to talk but words just were not coming out.
John Ross looked at him, “C’mon man, they are going to find us. Let me up.”
“Are the other guys cops?” Perry asked visibly stunned.
“Of course they are. Who else could pull this up. What else could we do, Rick. It’s our town. It was our parent’s town. They took our town, Rick. The law wouldn’t let us do anything. We had to read them rights. They are invaders, Rick. They have no rights. They are terrorists! They paralyzed the town. We are sworn to protect and serve. We only did what we should be allowed to do, Rick. We protected and served!”
“You are not the judge and jury! You do not have the right to take a man’s life. What have you done, John? What happened to you?”
“You see it every night Rick. You either become numb or you do something about it. I became numb to the point I lost all feeling. Then I did something Rick. I protected and served.”
“Well, okay Rick, be the hero. After all you’ve been through. Cuff me and go claim your front headlines.”
Rick Perry could not believe he was in this situation. He did not know what to do. The sirens were at the house and soon his men would be scouring the neighborhood looking for him. He had to take his friend in. It was hard. They were rookies together. They rode together many times. They drank beer together. He admired John’s spunk and dedication. John was proud to be a police officer, but he stepped over the line. He had changed. He was not the same. It was time to cuff him and take him to the station. It was not Rick’s job to judge him. His friend would be judged by his peers.
He looked his friend straight in the eyes. He jerked him up to the ground. He yanked out his handcuffs and pulled John’s hands behind his back.
He shoved his friend in the back and pushed him forward. “Get out of here, man. Retire. You couldn’t get over the shooting. You tried but you were traumatized. Retire or I’ll take you down! I promise. You will never be a police officer in this town again.”
John turned to thank him but Rick cut him off. “Hurry, before you get us both in trouble.” Rick was sick to his stomach. He walked a few steps and vomited. He was still in shock. He needed to get to the crime scene. He was terrified what he may find there.
Rick’s team had just started to search for him when he came walking down the street. “What happened?” Julian ran up to him and asked.
Rick shook his head and answered, “I saw a gangster run out of the back and chased him a few blocks until I twisted my leg in a pothole.” Rick was limping.
‘Damn potholes! Huntington oughta do something ‘bout them!” Scott Clark said with a smile. He was trying to find some sort of humor in the nightmare that was in front of the men. He was relieved to see Rick Prry alive. “You’re not going to believe what’s up here. Someone solved the mystery of the vigilantes for you.”
“Cops!” Julian Perez shouted. “The vigilantes were cops. Six dead cops!”
“What? You’re kidding me!” Rick Perry feigned surprise. He walked up to the horrifying site of six dead cops and two dead gangsters. The paramedics were working on a third gangster.
“The thugs had better weapons. More firepower,” Clark remarked. The area was literally crawling with investigators, patrol officers, and ambulances. The area residents started trickling out of their houses and lining up outside of the yellow tape. Tragedy had struck Fairfield again. Reporters were on their way. The vigilantes were going to be on television once again. The story would come screaming back. Geraldo Riveria and Nancy Grace would be back in Huntington once again.
Rick Perry was stunned. He looked at the faces of the dead cops. He did not know what to think. This evening was a complete shocker to him. He had felt something in the air but not anything like this. It was not any wonder he could think like the vigilantes. They were cops. They had the same basic instinct and thought the same way. It all made sense now.
Rick was going to try to make himself forget that John Ross had been a part of this. Rick just was not sure what he thought of all of this. This was just stunning. He never could have anticipated these turn of events. The tri-state area would be shocked for a long, long time. These were guys who he thought were good cops.
Rick had a civil war going on in his head. He knew the guys were dedicated and gave their lives for what they thought was justice. Though Rick knew that vigilantism is not justice, it’s murder. It’s funny, people always say that vigilantes should leave enforcing the law to the cops. Let the cops do their job. These guys were cops. They were not making money off of their actions. They were making the streets safe for their children.
Huntington had reason to be happy. They just did not know it yet. While the drug dealers were fighting the vigilantes, another battle was being fought. This battle would have more impact than the battle in Huntington but this battle was fought hundreds of miles away.
Mardy and Deandre Washington were at a woman’s house in Detroit. Heavy found out where they were a ct and his gang paid the house a visit. Heavy’s men went in through the back. They encountered Mardy. Mardy went out in a blaze of glory. Firing two guns at a time he took out two of Heavy’s men. Standing in the hallway shirtless, he held back Heavy’s men until Deandre made it out the front door. Deandre shot two men that were waiting for him out front.
When Mardy finally fell, the two men who shot him to death, ran out the door after Deandre. Deandre turned back to fire. Suddenly a Tri Glide shout from behind bushed that lined the drive. Deandre turned to fire at the Tri Glide but the rider fired first then proceeded to slam into Deandre.
Killing Deandre with his Tri Glide made Heavy a legend in Detroit. It also made him a hero in Huntington. The Huntington Police Department was in shock or the loss of six of their men. Deandre’s death helped ease some of the shock.
Mardy and Deandre’s deaths helped jump start the healing process. Huntington was still mourning the loss of six policemen. The men died as heroes even though if they had survived they would have been on trial for murder. The media hailed them as heroes who died fighting crime. They were compared to Batman and Spiderman who were vigilantes even though they were fictional.
They were heroes in the hearts of Huntington residents because of their motives. They were criminals in the eyes of the law because of their motives. They did not kill for personal gain. They killed to rid the city of criminals. It was like Batman battling the Joker in many people’s eyes. But their motives to kill made them outlaws. They did not have the right to be judge and jury and executioner.
Matt James leaned against the wall of Britney’s room. He was thrilled to have his Britney back. He was slightly unhappy to have to share her with Donte Carter, but Britney’s spirits were higher when Donte was around. Britney’s recovery was going to take awhile, but having Donte around seemed to be a plus.
Matt liked Donte. The two were working together to help heal Huntington. The pair pledged to fight drugs by helping form neighborhood watch groups and by working with addicts. Both were taking classes to become counselors. Donte was forming The Terrell Jones Youth Basketball League. He was going to be active in programs that would aim to keep children off of the streets.
Matt and Brenda were making strides in their relationship. Brenda was making excellent progress in her fight against addiction. Their relationship was almost like it was before her accident. Brenda, like Matt, thought very highly of Donte.
Matt had aspirations of running for magistrate. He had long thought that Huntington needed to be stricter with repeat offenders. He personally did not approve of one of the magistrates who was a big skirt chaser. The magistrate, although several years older than most of the girls that he chased, was rumored to let girls off easy in exchange for sexual favors. The magistrate had also previously been a bar owner in a seedy part of town and was rumored to help some of his old customers get out of trouble. Matt decided it was time for that magistrate to go. Matt was hoping his activity in helping Huntington recover, could help him get elected so he could fight crime from a courtroom.
With the awareness of Huntington’s drug problem, more people began seeking help. More people began getting active in helping others get help and they began helping the police arrest dealers.
John Ross quit The Huntington Police Department. He said he just did not have it in him after the shootings at the bar. He had some money put away and was trying to decide between moving to Florida or buying his own bar. He was hailed as a hero. Huntington was saddened to lose him as a cop.
The cops who died as vigilantes were regarded as heroes. They fought the deciding battle in the war against Detroit’s drug dealers. Huntington felt safe again. The Huntington Police Department was busting many local dealers. Crime was sure to drop in Huntington.
Huntington was proud of itself. It fought a war to rid itself against drugs and they won. The community came together and ousted its’ bad element. It was Huntington’s finest hour. Life was good in Huntington. The city was holding A Drug Abuse Awareness Day. The festivities included a parade and events held at Pullman Square. Bands played and there were events like a car show and games for the kids. It was a well publicized affair for families.
Heavy threw his right leg over his new 2011 Harley-Davidson "Triglide" and with his left foot he tapped the heel and toe shifter into neutral. He reached down to his right to release the hand brake, the hand brake release was a new procedure for a man used to two wheel motorcycles. He then jabbed the starter button with his right thumb and the 103 cubic inch, fuel injected stage 1 motor roared to life. The deep throaty performance sound of his Rheinhart exhaust system bounced off of the brick buildings and rolled down the narrow street, this was sure to wake some of the people who were sleeping at 1:30 AM. There was only one exhaust system for Heavy and that was those "crackin ass Rheiharts". Heavy had the Rheinharts on his previous bike, a 2007 H-D "Streetglide". The Rheinharts with their "True Dual" header system were expensive. Heavy had invested a total of about $40,000 in the "Streetglide" which he rode to bike shows and routinely won Best in Class" and often " Best in Show". The "Best in Show" trophies were 5 to 6 feet tall and required one of his motorcycle club brothers to haul them home.
Heavy's "Triglide" was also show quality. He paid $33,000 for the new trike and had the H-D dealer install another $8,000 in accessories before he picked up the trike. He replaced most of the H-D chrome covers with the "diamond ice" line of H-D accessory covers and the Rheinhart exhausts were very expensive. H-D produces the most beautiful paint available on a factory motorcycle and Heavy's was "Vivid Black". But a factory paint job, no matter how beautiful was not enough for Heavy. Heavy bought a motorcycle trailer and took the trike and trailer to a custom painter who laid beautiful purple "ghost flames" on the trike and the trailer. This was another $5,500. This was an expensive setup but Heavy always goes top shelf and first class, that is just the way Heavy rolls.
Heavy was now ready to roll to "money town", he had business there.