Judge and Jury by Jeff Dosser

“Baker one oh three, Baker one oh three and a backer, respond to a disturbance at 1301 N Trenton Circle,” crackled over Jake Dillon’s radio as he sat slumped in the driver’s seat of his police cruiser.

Pausing the movie on his laptop, Jake closed the lid and slid it into the backpack in the passenger seat. Jake pulled the mic from its cradle and keyed the send button.

“Baker one oh three, go ahead.”

The dispatcher continued, “Baker one oh three and backer, anonymous caller reports a fight and a woman screaming at this address. Break”

“Go ahead,” Jake responded.

“Baker one oh three, caller states that disturbance has been ongoing since midnight and it’s getting out of hand. Time now oh one thirteen”.

Parked beside Jake is his academy buddy Lane White.

“You comin’?” Jake asks.

Lane looks up groggily from a book leaning against the steering wheel.

“Sure,” Lane yawns.

Mic still in hand, Jake keys up. “Dispatch, put Charlie one fifteen with me,” and slides the mic back in its carriage.

“Baker one oh three copy. Charlie one fifteen will be backing,” the dispatcher acknowledges.

“You know this address don’t you?” Jake asks, putting the car in gear.

Lane rubs a hand across the stubble of his military haircut, an eyebrow raised in thought.

“Isn’t this the house where that dick is always beatin’ on his wife?”

“Yea, that’s the place,” Jake answers. “And she’s too stupid to move out, won’t press charges, nothin’. Drove her all over town a couple months ago trying to check her into a shelter after he beat up on her and slapped the kid around. Then, when we get there, she made me turn around and take her right back home.”

“Dumb bitch,” laughs Lane.

“Yea, dumb bitch,” Jake thinks, the picture of Dawn’s swollen, bloody lips and blackened eye fresh in his memory. Tonight, Jake figured Dawn had dropped the charges and Chris was back home, up to his old bullshit.

Rolling out of the back lot of the First Baptist church on Main, he secretly hoped that this was just a drunken argument, nothing more. A quick trip to the drunk tank for Chrisy boy and then it would be time to grab some chow. Jake was thinkin’ pancakes.

The intermittent radio traffic formed a familiar background as Jake negotiated the mostly empty streets on the way to the call, glancing up to his rear view mirror to verify Lane was still behind him as they pulled onto Trenton Circle and approached the house.

The first sign that things weren’t right, not the typical domestic, was the scream; High pitched, frantic, chilling. Reaching up to his driver’s side spotlight, Jake flicked it on and threw a cone of brilliance into the night. Rotating the beam onto the grassy yards, he sent it skating across lawns further up the street, halting as it lit upon Chris Fedder sitting atop a bundle on the ground, leaning over it with intent concentration.

As they pulled up, Jake heard the scream again, and saw Chris’s hand rise up and slap someone on the ground. It was then that Jake realized that Chris was sitting on Dawn, straddling her chest, her arms pinned beneath his knees.

What Jake couldn’t see was Chris’s grip on Dawn’s throat, pinning her to the grass, or the 4 inch kitchen knife he held in his hand like a pencil; Each careful draw of the blade unzipping the flesh across Dawn’s forehead. The thin slashes quickly filling with dark red blood, streaming into her tightly squeezed eyes.

“What the hell’r you doin!?” Jake yelled as he exited his unit and stepped into the yard. “Stand up and let me see your hands!”

Chris turned and released his grip on Dawn, squinting at Jake and Lane who were silhouetted in the spot light. Pushing off the ground, Chris stood and stepped away from Dawn, raising a bloody arm to shield his eyes from the light, the knife now clearly illuminated.

Seeing the weapon, Jake drew his Glock 22 C pistol and reflexively stepped away from Lane.

“Drop the knife!” he yelled.

With unspoken familiarity borne of shared experience, he and Lane worked different angles and distance on the armed, blood soaked man. Chris, both arms raised but still holding the knife, began to back away from Dawn, towards the peeling front door of his house.

Jake stepped quickly to Dawn and knelt beside her as she raised herself onto a shaky elbow, her other hand held a bloody rag pressed to her forehead; thin, red streamlets dribbled from beneath its grimy folds. Sparing a quick look, Jake saw that the front of Dawn’s shirt was plastered to her chest in a soaking combination of sweat and gore, the coppery smell of blood thick in the air.

“You OK?” Jake asked.

In response Dawn pulled the rag from her forehead, and for an instant, before the blood began to ooze from the slashes, Jake clearly read: “C H R I”, in slashed block letters across her forehead.

Shocked and sickened, Jake stood, raised his gun, and began to walk towards Chris. As he stepped away Dawn grabbed his leg, looking up at him.

“Don’t let him inside, “ she moaned before loosing her grip. “He’ll hurt the baby, he’ll hurt my little boy.”

Turning back, Jake saw that Chris was just fifteen feet from the front door, taking quick speculative looks towards it over his shoulder, as Lane repeated commands to “Drop the knife!”, “Get on the ground!”.

Suddenly, he did drop the knife, and with quick, unsteady steps he rushed for the front door. Holstering his pistol, Lane sprinted into stride just behind. Joining the chase but paces away, Jake saw the front door swing slowly open as a small boy, maybe four years old, peeked around the edge.

As Chris mounted the steps to the stoop, Lane made a leaping rush after him, left arm outstretched, and grabbed onto Chris’s collar. Pulled momentarily back, Chris threw his weight forward, yanking Lane with him. Losing both his footing and his grip, Lane missed the last step and went sprawling head long towards the side of the house, slamming headfirst into the wall.

Rebounding, Lane staggered backwards across the porch, his left foot slipping from the edge, sending him tumbling into space and landing on his back with a ‘whump’. As Lane fell, arms pin-wheeling, Chris had continued on, stiff arming the front door at a dead run, not caring that his son was visible just beyond. As the door flew open, it gained momentum before impacting the boy and sending the toddler cart wheeling across floor, skidding head first into a worn out recliner.

Steps behind, Jake sprinted into the house and skidded to a stop. Head swiveling, he saw to his left that Chris had run into the kitchen and armed himself with another knife, to his right, the toddler lay in a heap on the floor. Remembering Dawn’s words, Jake positioned himself between Chris and the boy. Stealing a glance at the child, Jake saw him sit up, blood streaming into his face from a gash hidden somewhere in the mop of hair. Mouth wide, a silent wail was forming on his lips.

Flicking his eyes back to the kitchen, Jake saw that Chris was crouched, slashing the air in front of him with the knife, his eyes flat but a wide smile on his lips. Jake leveled the Glock and gave a single guttural command.

“Drop the knife shit bag.”

Hearing the menace in Jake’s voice, Chris’s smile faltered, his eyes locking with Jake’s. Straightening, he raised his arms high above his head and let go the knife which clattered to the floor. Through the front door Jake could hear the high pitched warble of police sirens approaching, the child in the living room had begun to wail, and outside Dawn was screaming: “Don’t hurt him, please don’t hurt my husband! Chris are you OK? Chris?” Jake cocked his head towards the door then back to Chris who stood smiling at him.

“See, she still loves me”.

“You fucker! You almost killed her.” growled Jake, his knuckles white on the grip.

“Naw, that ain’t nothin’. But I’ll tell you what police man. When I do kill her it’ll be quiet. You just won’t hear from her no more. Probably be pretty soon too…know what I mean? She and that brat … they startin’ to wear on me.”

Then Chris smiled. “Let’s go to jail police man,” and he held his arms out, wrists together.

Jake stared for a long moment into the hollow darkness of Chris’s eyes. Eyes that flew suddenly wide as the flash from Jake’s gun and the impact of the bullet hit him in the chest. A small red hole, just below Chris’ right nipple, began to pour blood as the second flash-boom went off. The first pull of the trigger Jake hardly felt the recoil as the gun jumped in his hand, this time it was more noticeable. A second red hole appeared in the center of Chris’s chest and blood began to stream down.

Stumbling against the counter top, Chris reached towards Jake with one hand, scattering pans and dishes with the other. Tottering, he to the floor with a wet thud, a thick flow of red black blood pooling beneath his out stretched arm.

Lane came limping inside, gun drawn. “What the hell?! Are you OK?” he gasped.

“Yea, we’re all fine now. Guy had a knife. I had to put him down” Jake said slowly, holstering his weapon.

Jake reached up to the mic on his left shoulder and keyed the talk button.

“Baker one oh three, Baker one oh three, shots fired. Need an ambulance three times. Two victims with serious injuries, one a juvenile. Suspect down. Start supervisors and detectives to the scene.”

Radio chatter exploded as supervisors, dispatchers, and other officers came on, demanding more information, responding that they were en-route, wanting to know the situation and status of the suspect. Jake heard none of it. He was vaguely aware that Lane was doing his best to sort out the radio traffic but at the moment it was just noise.

Jake walked over to the wailing child, picked him up gently and carried him into the night.

*

Raised an engineer by country scholars, Jeff Dosser worked for several years as an IT developer before making the next logical step in an IT career, joining the police. He spent the next 18 years as a night shift cop in the worst part of a large Southern city. Back to doing IT work, Jeff spends his time writing and pondering the horrors wondering through the woods of his rural home.

2 thoughts on “Judge and Jury by Jeff Dosser”

  1. The pacing on this procedural is taut and compelling. Reminds me of a an NYPD friend who beat up a wife beater he knew and stopped the erratic behavior without having to take the matter further.

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