Saturday, February 12, 2005

Pecaw's Gift / Chapter 4 Falling

The struggle for the gun lasted only a moment, an awfully long moment.
Sinclair did manage to gain control of it as the two of them banged against the flimsy iron
railing; which was never meant to be functional, just ornamental. The victory was
not very glamorous as the metal gave way and gravity took the prize. There was a shift
in real time as Sinclair’s nightmare continued. Each half moment was slower than the
one before as if he were captured in a Salvador Dali landscape. The concrete broke
away at the base of the railing. Little dust particles were transformed into miniature
explosions, frozen in time before his eyes. He knew that he was in serious trouble,
possibly his last glimpse of life was in front of him.

He remembered the time at his extra job working traffic at the construction site of
the new Downtown Library. While he sat on a wooden saw horse eating a sandwich, he
watched a car that was headed northbound on Bagby street. The woman behind the
wheel had a map stretched out in front of her as she carelessly throttled down the street.
The light changed to red well before her car entered the intersection, time enough for
Sinclair to glance to his left and see a white station wagon westbound on Lamar. The
disaster was about to happen and each moment was as crisp and clear in his mind as if it
were yesterday. Each frame of the action was perfectly set in slow motion, and for an
instant there was no sound. Upon impact there was a spectacular spray of glass. The
suspended tubular glass sculpture that gracefully flows across the large atrium of Jones
Hall could not rival the momentary configuration of the flying windshield fragments.

The woman’s car went airborne, twisted in mid air then sank back to the street with a
thud. Still holding the map in her hands and with a look of total surprise on her face,
reality raced time back to normal as the car came to a rest against the curb. Her body quickly retreated into the resilience of the seat, vaulted forward into the shoulder belt and the accident was over. It had only been a blink; he was still falling.

“So far, so Good”, Sinclair joked sarcastically to himself, “Am I falling FROM
the second floor, or am I falling TO the ground?” The gravity of the moment could
not contain the smile; he was laughing in the face of death itself. He held the pistol
tightly as the two plummeted downward. The suspect crashed head first; a sickening
smush and he was just a lifeless mass of pulp. There was nothing left to be fearful of; no
more good guys or bad guys. Sinclair jolted to a stop as his legs folded underneath him.
A loud crack reverberated off the pink brick walls of the courtyard. He had heard a
similar noise while playing softball when the left fielder’s nose had attacked the third
baseman’s elbow when both fielders had called for the same pop fly. He did not have to
look down to know that he had broken his legs; maybe his hip too. As his back slammed
into the ground, he looked momentarily skyward; then a fraction of a second later his
head slapped against the ground. His eardrums were not able to withstand the pressure; a
stream of blood began to trickle down his neck. His eyes, still aimed into the dark early
morning sky, could not make out the figures that gathered around him; only the jagged
piece of bone sticking through his uniform trousers.

“Five Frank Twenty Five”, a deliberately slow voice broke the air, “I have Five
Frank Fifteen and Twenty Two enroute. What is your situation?”

Sinclair thought to himself as he tried to reach for the radio that was at his side,
“Maybe I should tell her that the suspect is in custody”, his warped police humor often
came out when things were going badly; beads of sweat broke across his brow as his body began to go into shock.

“Five Frank Twenty Five” , another long pause, “Five Frank Twenty Five; All units Five Frank Twenty Five is not responding. Five Frank Fifteen or Twenty what’s your ETA?”

Sinclair was wondering why it was taking him so long to pick up his radio and answer. Once he remembered being so tired that he had pulled his patrol car off into a parking lot to sleep; change that to “set up on a building for burglars”. He had been there only a short while, or so it seemed, listening to the radio in his slumbered state when he heard the dispatcher announce his numbers.

“Five Frank Twenty Five, in your beat a suspicious vehicle 8400 Blankenship code five”. The cobwebs of his mind assembled to complete the assignment. He dialed the dispatcher’s number on the telephone that he kept in the glove box, but the line was busy. He then had his partner try to get through. The line was always busy. He began to question some of the minor details; like the fact that he did not have a partner and he certainly didn’t have a telephone in the glove box. A mild form of panic struck him, “How long have I been out of it and how long has the dispatcher been calling my number?” He picked up the mike, “Five Frank Twenty Five”, he was thinking,

“My radio was turned down. Were you bumping me?” It was the best he could do at the
moment. A rash of “clicking” mikes hit the air in laughter. It was well known that Sinclair often “set up on burglars” after zero three hundred hours. He had to laugh at himself for having been reminded of his frailties as he ran the call.

“Five Frank Twenty Five !”, the dispatcher contained her alarm but her voice was tense with worry. “Supervisor enroute to 1600 Pech? I have a report of an officer down at this time.”

“Five Frank ‘Oh’ Two enroute.”

Sinclair looked out into the night sky but he could not see any stars, the air in Houston was often too thick with humidity or ambient light. The ground had begun to sap his warmth and he felt a sinking feeling deep inside. He no longer felt the pain in his legs but there was a terrible pounding in his head.

The noise of hot tires grinding the pavement marked the arrival of the first unit. The siren cutting the night air was a pleasing sound; help was close by. He could see the flashing lights as they danced on the brick and broken glass that lay scattered throughout the courtyard. The red and white angels sparkled and bounced quietly over
his blood soaked trousers. He tried to look in the direction of hurried foot steps that were just to his left, but he could not move. A powerful beam of light scanned the area and hit him squarely.

“Five Frank Fifteen arrived, get an ambulance rolling!” Officer MacDougal looked quickly at the suspect’s crushed skull and total lack of movement.

“The suspect appears to be DOA. I need some units for crowd control. Could you contact Homicide and IAD?”

“Five Frank Twenty Two arriving.”

“Five Frank Fifteen that’s clear.”, a momentary hesitation while the dispatcher was on the telephone; splitting her attentions from one conversation to the other, “HFD is requesting the nature of the officer’s injuries; their ETA is five minutes.”

MacDougal looked down, “Dosilmeyer. . . “ ‘you Okay?” A relationship had been established several years earlier when Sinclair had been MacDougal’s training officer. MacDougal had been a challenge. One of his weakest areas was the use of the Key Map and finding dispatched locations. Some extra effort on both of their parts had paid off. The result was a confident and well qualified officer. Sinclair was proud to have been a part of the process; it bothered him that he could not see his face. He wanted to say something, anything to acknowledge the thanks he felt, but his mouth refused to work.

“Five Frank Fifteen, Dosilmeyer appears to have broken his legs and may have back injuries. He is unconscious at this time and looks like he has lost some blood.”

It was not important now, but the suspect’s pistol was still firmly held and Sinclair released it to MacDougal. He closed his eyes and for a moment the terror left his mind.