The Shotgun Rider

After Central sent the call, I keyed my mike.

“Central, eight zero four niner. 17 at Elm and Claire, ETA three minutes.”

“What was that all about”, asked Valerie, the woman sitting in the seat beside me in the patrol car.

Central got a silent alarm from the pawnshop on Elm.  Somebody is probably trying to break in.  Happened there last month, so I know the place.  They’re probably after the guns and gold jewelry like last time.  I just told Central I was on the way and I’d be there in about three minutes.”

“What will we do when we get there?”

I shut off the siren as I turned off Elm and onto Justin.  Half-way down the block, I turned into the alley.  I saw a blue Chrysler minivan parked behind “Everyday Pawn”.  I turned to Valerie.

“We… aren’t going to do anything.  I’m going to check out the pawn shop.  You’re going to stay in the car and not touch anything.  You’ll be able to hear anything I say back to Central on the radio because I’ll leave the engine running.”

After pulling the key from the ignition, I opened the door, took my flashlight from the charging station and made certain it was charged, then locked and closed the door.   The engine was still running because car manufacturers modify patrol cars so the officer can take the key out of the ignition without shutting off the engine.  That’s so the electronics and lights can continue to work without running down the battery and the officer still has a key to unlock the doors.  We always lock our doors if we’re going to be more than a few steps from our patrol car.  It’s uncommon, but not unheard of, for a person to take a patrol car if it’s not locked.

It was pitch black dark in that alley at one AM, but the take-down and alley lights on my light bar lit up most of the alley.  The beam of my flashlight showed me the back door to the pawn shop was standing open.  When I was about ten feet away, I pulled the Glock .40 from my holster and got ready to yell for anybody inside to come out.  Before I could do that, a guy dressed in black jeans and a black T-shirt came out the door carrying a gym bag that looked heavy.  

He looked dazzled when the beam of light from my flashlight hit him in the eyes, and that’s what was supposed to happen.  It was supposed to blind him and make him give up.  I yelled, “Police officer.  Drop the bag, turn around, put your hands on your head, and don’t move.”

It looked like he was going to do what I asked.  He gently sat down the gym bag and started to lift his hands.  A split-second later though, he took off down the alley.  I holstered the Glock and keyed my mike as I started after him.

“Eight zero four niner in foot pursuit down the alley toward Elizabeth.  Suspect is white male, black shirt and pants.”

In my ear bud, I heard Central reply.

“Eight zero four niner, be advised eight zero six one is at your location on Elizabeth.”

I really hate chasing bad guys on foot.  I’m in pretty good shape, but I’m no sprinter and my vest and service belt add about thirty pounds to my two-ten.  Most guys into theft are in pretty sorry shape, so I’d have eventually caught him, but that was probably going to wear me out for the rest of the night.

The guy would have made it to the street if Will hadn’t turned his patrol car into the alley.  As it was, Will’s flashing blue lights made the guy stop and look for some other way to get out of the alley and that let me catch up to him.  He did try a couple of doors, but they were locked.  That’s when I tackled him and forced him to the ground.

When Will ran up, I had the guy on the ground on his belly with my knee in his back.  I was trying to get my cuffs on his right hand, but the guy wasn’t cooperating.  He was fighting like hell and screaming “you’re breakin’ my fuckin’ back.  Let me up.”  I pulled on his arm again.

“Just relax and let me cuff you and I’ll get off you.  If you keep fighting, it’s just gonna hurt worse.”

He wasn’t a big guy, but he was surprisingly strong.  He tried to raise up and throw me off his back.  Even the two of us were having trouble holding the asshole down and getting his hands behind his back.  Will said, “fuck this”,  pulled the charge cartridge from his Taser,  pushed it against the guy’s thigh, and yelled, “Lay still or you’ll be tased”.  

Either the guy wasn’t listening or he was just plain fucking dumb, because he screamed “get the fuck off me” and pushed up again.  His second scream wasn’t rage.  It was the intense pain of a couple thousand volts of electricity from the probes of the Taser.  I know how much that hurts because when we were issued Taser’s I had to submit to being tased so I’d understand the effect.  Believe me, the effect will take your mind off anything and you won’t be able to move either.

He stopped fighting me long enough I got my cuffs on his right hand, and when Will yelled, “Give him your left hand or I’ll tase you again”, he gave up and let me cuff that one too.

We stood him up then and walked him back to my patrol car.  I noticed that Valerie was standing there watching instead of being inside my car like I’d told her.  There wasn’t time to say anything about that now, but I would later.

We stood the guy up against the side of my patrol car and while Will held him there, I asked him for his name.  He wasn’t very cooperative.

“I don’t have to tell you nuthin’ ‘cause I wasn’t doin’ nuthin’ but walkin’ down this alley.”
“Yeah, I know.  You’ve been to the all night gym and that gym bag you dropped at the pawn shop was just your gym clothes, right?”

“I ain’t never seen that fuckin’ bag before.  It ain’t mine.”

I smiled.

“You know, of course, that my dash and body cams are gonna show you walking out of the pawn shop with that bag and then dropping it before you ran?”

He still wouldn’t own up.

“I don’t give a good fuck what you say.  I wasn’t in there and I didn’t do nuthin’.  Why’d you tackle me, man?  I scraped my fuckin’ face on the ground and it still hurts.”

“When a police officer tells you to stop running, you’re supposed to stop.  You didn’t so I tackled you.  Wanna tell me your name now?”

“I ain’t saying shit until I talk to my lawyer.”

“Well, if that’s how you want to play this, OK.  We’ll find out who you are once I get you down to the station.  Once we know who you are, we’ll let you call a lawyer.  It’ll probably take a couple of weeks, but we’ll find out.  While we’re waiting, you can sit in a cell and wait with us, well, unless you change your mind about talking.”

I searched the guy but didn’t find anything in his pockets, not even a wallet, so I put the guy in the back of my patrol car.  Will walked up then and handed me the gym bag.  It’s no wonder the guy ditched it.  It would have slowed him down a lot.  The damned thing must have weighed sixty pounds.

When I opened it, I had to whistle.  It was full of guns.  The first one I pulled out was an older 1911 Colt.  I held it up for Will to see.

“Damn…it’s a 1911.  I haven’t taken one of these off a suspect ever.  They usually have a nine mil, sometimes even a .380.  A .45 weighs too much and it’s hard to hide.”

Will grinned.

“Well, maybe he wanted a little more stopping power, or thought somebody else would pay more for it.”  

I pulled another pistol out of the bag, this time a Glock .40 just like the one on my side.  By the time the bag was empty, there were twenty-one pistols and revolvers on the hood of my patrol car along with a dozen boxes of cartridges.  I walked back and opened the back door of my patrol car to talk with my suspect.

“Hey there, buddy.  Looks like you wanted to start your own gun shop.”

He glared at me.

“I don’t know what the fuck you’re talkin’ about.”

“What I’m talking about is all the guns in that gym bag you were bringing out of the pawn shop, the guns that are sitting on the hood of my car right now.”

He shook his head.

“They ain’t mine.  Told you that already.  You must have planted them.”

“If they’re not yours, why’d you run?”

“I know cops.  You’re just looking to haul somebody’s ass to jail to make it look like you do something.  I didn’t want that ass to be mine.”

“That minivan probably isn’t yours either then.”

“Never saw it before I ran past it.”

“Well, you just sit tight while I see if you’re telling me the truth.”

I checked the minivan for a key since I hadn’t found one when I emptied the guy’s pockets.  The ignition switch had been popped, a sure sign it was a stolen vehicle.  The slide hammer laying on the floor he’d used to pop it was another.  I went back to the patrol car, sat down in the front seat and keyed the license number of the minivan into my terminal.  A few seconds later, the owner’s name and address popped up on my screen along with the notice that the vehicle had been reported stolen a few hours earlier.  I went back and opened my back door again.

“Well, you were right about the minivan.  Unless your name is Florence Abrahms, it’s not yours.  It was reported stolen tonight though, about a dozen blocks from here and the ignition has been popped.  I’d bet the crime scene techs will find your prints all over it.  Want to tell me if I’m right?  Might go easier on you if you do.”

He just looked at me and growled, “Fuck you.”

I closed the door on him and walked back to the minivan with my flashlight.  I was looking in the driver’s door when Valerie walked up behind me.

“What are you looking for?”

“Anything that doesn’t belong. This car was reported stolen a couple hours ago.  A lot of these guys are stealing to pay for their habit so there might be drugs or drug paraphernalia somewhere.  If I find anything like that, I can charge him with that as well as car theft and burglary.”

“Can I help?”

I shook my head.

“No, Valerie.  If you touched anything, his lawyer would claim you’d contaminated the evidence and he might get off for the vehicle theft or any drug charges.  Just stand back and let me do my job.”

I didn’t find anything, but that wasn’t surprising.  He wouldn’t have had much time to leave anything.  The crime scene techs would find out if he left prints or hair or other DNA containing material in the minivan or in the pawnshop. I put in a call to Central and asked for a tow truck to take the minivan back to the lab, and then another to request the crime scene techs to check out the pawnshop.  A detective would contact the owner of the pawn shop in the morning for a list of serial numbers of the guns to use as evidence.

Two hours later, the nurse at the station had bandaged up the road rash he’d gotten when I tackled him, and he’d been booked for burglary and evading a police officer.  His fingerprints were on their way to the state and FBI databases for identification.  His DNA sample was in our lab waiting to be analyzed and then cross referenced to known criminals.  I asked Valerie if she was ready for lunch.

The burger place where I usually have lunch isn’t on my patrol route, but it’s one of the few places close that’s open all night so that’s where I usually go.  I let Valerie finish her meal before I asked why she’d gotten out of my car.

“Valerie, what you did back there could have gotten you hurt or even killed.  You should have stayed in the patrol car like I said.”

Valerie frowned.

“But I couldn’t see what was going on.”

“Well, the guy had twenty-one guns in that gym bag.  What if he’d decided to load another one and stick it in his pants before he came out?  If he’d shot at me, he might have hit you.”

“You didn’t seem too worried about getting shot.”

“Valerie, I get paid to do what I did, and I’ve been trained how to do it.  It’s my job, but it’s not yours.  If you’re going to ride with me, you have to do what I say.  It’s for your own safety as well as mine.  I can’t do my job if I have to be worrying about you.”

Valerie promised, although I could tell she wasn’t happy about it.  I’d have to watch her pretty closely when I made another stop.  Hopefully, I’d have quiet calls the rest of the week.

It had all started with a complaint and a fucked-up suggestion by the party who didn’t hold the Mayor’s office.  According to the complaint, some people were saying the police were abusing their power, using excessive force, and in general, targeting people who’d done nothing wrong.  They wanted an  independent review of each case involving police use of force by a committee of private citizens.  

The Mayor had enough sense not to go for that idea.  A committee of private citizens would have stretched out the arrest and trial process for months.  His counter-proposal was to put people respected by the community in patrol cars for a week so they could see what we did everyday.  They could then tell the community what they’d seen and hopefully satisfy everybody.  Those people consisted of a few managers of local businesses, several people high up in community politics from both parties, and Valerie, a well-known reporter for the local newspaper.

Valerie had been offered the opportunity because she’d been pretty critical of the police department in several of her articles.  She seemed convinced the police force drove around looking for people to arrest and if we couldn’t find a reason, we’d antagonize that person until they fought back and gave us probable cause.  Then, we’d arrest them for resisting arrest, search them and their vehicle or home, and find something else to charge them with.  The fact we found a lot of drugs and people with outstanding warrants during routine traffic stops and by stopping people who looked like they were up to something didn’t seem to matter to Valerie.

Now, to anybody except a police officer it probably does sometimes seem as if the police are out to arrest as many people as possible, and I have no doubt that in a department as large as the Nashville Police, there are a few officers who do tend to watch some people more than others.  The thing is, we’re not out to find a reason to arrest anyone.  What we’re trying to do is uphold the law and protect the citizens of the community by using our experience and training.  Once you know what to look for, bad guys are pretty easy to spot.  Some get extra scrutiny because we’ve arrested them before and they usually don’t change once they get out of prison.

By the time an officer has spent a year in a patrol car, he or she has seen a lot of things, and we start looking for those things so we can stop trouble before it happens.  A vehicle moving slower than normal traffic might mean the driver is talking on his or her cell phone and could be a hazard to other drivers.  It might also mean the driver isn’t in any shape to be behind the wheel.  All incapacitated drivers don’t drive erratically.  Sometimes they know they’re drunk and drive slow hoping they won’t attract attention.  It might just mean the driver is elderly and being cautious.

We’ll pull that car over just to see what’s going on.  If the driver is just driving slow, cooperates and does what we ask, the worst he or she is going to get is a “Be careful and have a nice day” from us.  If he or she was talking on a cell phone or texting and admits to that, they’ll just get a ticket and be on their way.

If he or she is under the influence and cooperates by either admitting it or by taking and failing our field sobriety test, we’ll take them to jail to get them off the street.  They’ll sit in a cell until they sober up enough to understand what’s happening, and then be booked.  It’s rare for them to have to post bond unless it’s a second offense or if they’ve had an accident involving injury or property damage.  They’ll just get a citation and court date, and have to call someone to come get them.

When those traffic stops escalate is when the driver won’t cooperate or when it appears drugs or some other crime are involved.  We’ll try to talk the driver and any passengers into cooperating, but it they start becoming abusive or threatening, we’ll respond by doing what it takes to protect ourselves and any other people and property in the area.  That’s when the routine stop becomes something that makes the news and the newspaper, and because the details don’t come out until later, sometimes not until the trial, it seems like we stopped the person without reasonable cause.

There are other scenarios, of course – the driver who is driving fast but slows down and seems nervous when he sees a patrol car behind him, the guy walking down the street who suddenly runs into a place of business or down an alley when he sees us, or the half-dressed woman hanging out on a street corner who sees us looking at her and then starts walking away as fast as she can.  

Most people don’t do those things unless they’re afraid they’re going to be arrested for something they’ve done.  Usually they have something to be afraid about.  That’s why they try to walk or run off.  We recognize that and stop them to see if what we suspect is true.  It’s not targeting individuals.  It’s just recognizing the signs that someone is trying to hide something illegal, and our job is to find out what that something was and stop the person from doing it again.

Anyway, I’d drawn Valerie for a week, and this was only the first night.  I didn’t know Valerie, but I knew of her because I read her articles in the newspaper.  I’d envisioned some overweight plain-Jane who had probably never had a date in her life and was trying to get some recognition by creating animosity for the police.  I was sure she probably wore her hair in one of those really short pony tails that look more like a duck’s ass end.

Valerie wasn’t a plain-Jane at all and she didn’t wear her hair like that.  She was about medium height for a woman and her figure was pretty inviting, or at least, her snug jeans and knit top made her look that way.  She also had a pretty smile.  When we first got into my patrol car, I thought maybe it might be fun having her ride with me.  She seemed to be pretty intelligent, and I hoped when she saw what a police officer runs into sometimes, she might change her mind.

By the time I got the guy back to the station, booked, and started trying to find out who he was, my shift was about over, and so were my hopes of changing Valerie’s mind.  Valerie sat with me while I looked at the mug shots of known thieves in the area, and after I found Walter Hastings, aka, Willie Harmon, she started asking me questions.

“So, the guy looks like this Walter Hastings.  Don’t you have to prove that?”

I nodded.

“Yes, but he was arrested three years ago for a purse snatching.  That means his DNA will be on file, so all we have to do is compare the sample I took tonight with that record.”

“I thought you had to consent to having your DNA taken.  Isn’t that a violation of privacy?”

“No, not since 2013.  Every person who gets arrested for anything serious like robbery, assault, or worse gets a DNA sample taken and those samples end up in our database as well as NCIC.  It’s no different than a mug shot or fingerprints.  DNA is just a newer technique for identification.”

“Why were you so rough on the guy?  His face was all scraped up.  You even used a Taser on him.  Why?”

“He resisted arrest, and if we hadn’t controlled him, he might have gotten away or hurt one of us in the process.  If he’d just cooperated, we wouldn’t have gotten physical with him and we wouldn’t have tased him.  In case you haven’t noticed, I ended up with a few scrapes out of the deal too and both Will and I would probably have had a few more before we got him subdued.  We didn’t know if he had a weapon either.  It’s a lot better to find a weapon once he’s in cuffs than to find out when he shoots at us or tries to stab us.  

“I’ve experienced both, and it never turns out well for either the cop or the suspect.  The suspect is going to get shot and most likely killed because we’re trained to aim for the largest target, the torso.  Even if the cop doesn’t get shot too, he’s going to have to live with the fact he killed another person for the rest of his life.  That can work on you.  I know.”

“If it had been a woman, would you have done anything different?  I mean, most women aren’t that strong, are they?”

“It depends on the woman.  Most aren’t, but some would surprise you.  They don’t have to be strong though.  I once had a woman bite me on the arm hard enough she drew blood.  I had to go to the hospital to get that taken care of, and thank God, she didn’t have anything life threatening like AIDS or hepatitis.  That’s been known to happen.  The cop who gets bitten ends up with something that’s going to kill him down the road.  

“Hopefully, you won’t see anything worse than tonight, but it does get worse.  We don’t like using force, but sometime we have to in order to protect ourselves and the rest of the public from anything that might happen.”

I figured she’d already made up her mind about what cops do and I wasn’t going to change it easily.  That wasn’t my goal anyway.  My goal was to do what I do every night.  I wasn’t really surprised when she smiled, but her smile didn’t look like she really believed me..

“I see.  Well, it’s almost six thirty.  If we’re done for the night, I’m going to go home and get some sleep.  I’ll see you tomorrow night.”

The next night was a little quieter.  My first stop was a little compact car that was weaving a little more than I thought normal.  I turned to Valerie.

“See anything odd about that car in front of us?”

“Yes.  They seem to be wandering a little.  Are you going to stop them?”

“This is what I was talking about last night.  Something is going on with the driver.  I don’t know what that is, yet, and if I let them go, they might cause themselves or somebody else to get hurt.”

I flipped on my lights and yelped the siren a couple times.  The car pulled into the parking lot of a strip mall and stopped.  

“Sit tight, Valerie.  You’ll be able to see through the windshield and you’ll hear everything through the radio.  I don’t want you outside the patrol car tonight, understood?”

“I’ll stay here”, she said.

The driver was a young girl who I didn’t think was much over eighteen.  She had her window rolled down when I touched the taillight of the car to leave my prints as proof I’d pulled her over, and then walked up to the driver’s side door.  She grinned at me.


“Hi. I’m Officer Ron James.  How you doin’ tonight?”

“Oh, I’m just fine.”

It was then the alcohol fumes hit me in the face.

“Could you shut off your engine for me?”


I shined my flashlight inside the car to check for anything lying on or between the seats.  It’s surprising how many people will leave their drugs or a weapon in plain sight.  If I see anything like that, it gives me probable cause to detain the person and search the vehicle.  I didn’t see anything except her purse.

“Ma’am, the reason I stopped you is you were sort of weaving around.  Are you sure you’re OK?  I can call for some help if you’re not feeling well.”

“No, I’m fine, really.  I’m just a little sleepy, that’s all.”

“Well, it smells to me like you’ve been drinking.  Have you?”

“Just a little, maybe one or two drinks.”

“Where was that?”


“Where uptown?”

“At…uh…at that place where they have the horses.”

That was my first clue she’d had too much.  People can usually remember where they were only a couple hours before.  If they’re under the influence of alcohol or drugs, sometimes they forget.

“I don’t think I know that place.  Where is it – Second, Third, where?”

“Third, I think – no, Second…I think.”

“You’re sure you only had one or two drinks?  It seems like you had more than that.”

“I’m sure ‘cause I counted the straws.”

“And how many straws did you count?”

The looked like she was thinking hard for a second, but then she smiled sheepishly.

“Maybe there were three.”

“I see.  Do you have any identification?”


The girl dug into her purse.  I held the beam of my flashlight on that purse with my left hand.  My right hand was on the Glock on my right side until she pulled out a wallet.  You never know what might come out of a purse, and I didn’t want to get caught staring down the barrel of a pistol or trying to avoid getting stabbed.  

She pulled her driver’s license from the wallet and handed it to me.

She was Sally Vickers and the day before was her twenty-first birthday.

“So, Sally, yesterday was your birthday.  Congratulations.  I bet you had a party tonight, didn’t you?”

She grinned sheepishly.

“Yeah, a little one.”

“At that place with the horses?”


“Well, Sally, could you step out of your car for me.”

Her smile turned into a look of fear.

“Are you going to arrest me?  That’s what happens on TV when the cops ask somebody to get out of their car.  I don’t want that to happen.”

“I’m not necessarily going to arrest you, but I do need to confirm you’re OK to drive.  Now, step out for me, please.”

I saw tears in her eyes.

“Officer, I just can’t get arrested.  Please let me go.  I’m only about two blocks from home.  I’ll go there and go right to bed, I promise.”

I shook my head.

“Sally, I can’t let you do that.  You’ve been lucky so far because you haven’t gotten into an accident.  If I let you go, you might.  You don’t want to be responsible for hurting someone else, now do you?”

“No, but I promise I won’t.”

“I know, but I still can’t let you go.  Please step out of your car.”

She looked up at me with a frown.

“Can I say no?”

I shrugged and switched from my friendly voice to my command voice.

“Sally, here’s how it is.  One way or another, you’re going to get out of your car.  You can do it by yourself, or I can help you.  I don’t want to have to help you, and I’m pretty sure you don’t want that either.  You won’t be having a very good day if I have to do that.”

Sally frowned.

“I don’t have much of a choice then, do I?”

“No, not really.”

Sally opened her door, and started to get out.  She didn’t make it because she’d forgotten to unfasten her seat belt.  She looked up at me.

“I guess I should undo my seat belt first.”

Sally was cooperating, so I went back to my “friendly, I just want to help you” voice

“Yeah.  That usually helps.  Just unfasten it and then walk back to the rear of your car please.”

Sally was pretty slow and pretty awkward when she finally got out.  She giggled when she stumbled a little on the way to the rear of her car.

“The road isn’t very smooth here, is it?”

I chuckled.

“Well, I think you’re probably not very balanced either.  Look at me and follow my flashlight with just your eyes.”

I moved my flashlight from side to side and Sally followed it by turning her head.

“That was good, Sally, but this time just move your eyes, OK.”

I moved my flashlight again, and Sally moved her head again.

“OK, Sally, now put your feet together and put your hands at your sides …”, I moved mine together and showed her with my flashlight, “just like this.  Then I want you to raise one foot and count, like one one-thousand, two one-thousand, three one-thousand, until I tell you to stop, OK?  It doesn’t matter which foot.”

Sally had to put that foot down to keep from falling after counting to two.

“Wow.  This is really hard to do.”

“Well, I always give people a second chance.  Let’s try that again.  Put your feet together and look at me, then lift one foot and start counting.”

Sally made it all the way to four this time before she started to fall down.  I was already sure she was over the limit, but I thought I’d give her one more test just for confirmation.

“OK, Sally.  Do you remember the alphabet?”


“Well, start with A and tell me all the letters.”

“OK.  A, B, D, E, F, G… G… G… H, I, J, K, L, N… M… O, P, Q, R, S, T, UVWYZ.”

There were other parts of the field sobriety test I could have tried, but I knew it wouldn’t make any difference.  I stepped closer and closed my hand around her wrist.

“Sally, you’re under arrest for driving under the influence.  Turn around and put your hands behind your back for me.”

She sobbed, “Oh, God, no”, and started to cry, but she turned around and put both hands behind her back.  I put the cuffs on her and walked her back to the patrol car and opened the back door.

“Sally, have a seat while I call for a tow truck to tow your car.  It’ll be in the city impound lot when you’re ready to pick it up.”

Once I had a tow truck on the way, I ran Sally’s driver’s license number through the state database.  She didn’t have a record of anything before tonight, not even a parking ticket.  I got out, walked back, and opened the back door again.

Sally was still sobbing.  I tried to calm her down.

“Sally, there’s no need to cry.  You haven’t hurt anybody so it’s going to be only the DUI charge.  It’s not the end of the world.  I’m going to take you to the station and give you a breath test so we both know for sure.  Then they’ll put you in a cell to let you sober up a little.  After that, they’ll issue you a citation and a court date, and then you can call someone to come get you.  You’ll probably be back home in a few hours.”

She looked up at me.

“The only one I can call is my mom and I can’t call her.  She’ll kill me.”

I chuckled.

“Nah, I doubt that.  She’ll probably be mad, but she’ll come get you.  Mom’s are like that.”

Valerie went with me when I took Sally to take her breath test.  Sally blew 0.09 blood alcohol level, just over the limit.  I left her and my report with booking and Valerie and I went back on patrol.  We’d just left the station when Valerie asked why I’d been so nice to the girl.

“You spent almost ten minutes talking to her before you got her out of the car.  Why didn’t you just drag her out?”

“Well, she wasn’t really resisting.  She was just scared.  If I’d tried to pull her out of her vehicle, she’d probably have fought me.  That would have added resisting arrest to her charges and if she’d tried to hurt me, that would add assault on a police officer.  That wouldn’t have done any good for either of us. All I wanted to do was get her off the road, not put her in jail. She’s young and made a mistake.  With just the DUI charge, she might be scared enough to not do it again.”

Valerie shook her head.

“I don’t know if I’d have been as patient.  My sister got hit by a drunk driver and spent a week in the hospital.”

“Yeah, I’ve seen that happen, but each case is different.  If I’d run her license and found out this was her second violation, I might have done it differently, I don’t know, but I try to keep focused on the situation at hand, not on what’s happened in the past.  If I don’t do that, pretty soon I’ll be guilty of the things you keep writing in your paper.”

“You know about my articles?”

“Yeah.  I don’t like them much, but I do read them.”

“They’re based on fact.  I never write anything that I can’t back up with facts.”

I’d told myself I wasn’t going to get into an argument with Valerie.  I was just going to show her what life is like for a cop in a patrol car.  This was going too far though.

“What facts?  Like the arrest you wrote about last week – the guy who robbed a convenience store and was shot trying to get away?  You probably didn’t stop to think that he pointed a pistol at the officer, or didn’t you hear about that?”

“The police report just said they saw him raise his hand when they told him to stop.”

“You did read they found a pistol in his hand after they shot him, don’t you?”

“Yes, but that doesn’t mean he was going to shoot at the officer.”

I was starting to get mad.  Valerie seemed to be defending the guy who got shot instead of being thankful the officer had put him down before he hurt somebody.

“Why the hell else would he start pointing a pistol at them if he wasn’t going to shoot?  He could have just said he had one and stood there while the officers disarmed him.  Why was he carrying a pistol anyway?  He didn’t have a carry permit.”

“Maybe he had one for self-defense.  That area of town is pretty rough.  Maybe he thought the officer was somebody else.”

“So, he didn’t see the flashing lights and didn’t listen when the officer yelled that he was a police officer and told the guy to stop running.  That’s what the officer’s body cam recorded.  How could he not know it was a police officer?”

“I don’t know, but there was no reason for the officer to shoot him since the man didn’t shoot first.”

“How long would it take you to decide if he was just raising his hand or if he had a pistol and was going to shoot?  Remember, it was dark and the officer had only his flashlight to light up the suspect.”

“I don’t know.  Maybe a few seconds.”

“If the officer had waited until the guy shot, he might have been laying on the ground and the guy would have been running away.  Is that what you think should have happened – the officer lying there wounded or dead and the suspect running away?”

“No, I didn’t say that in my article.  All I said was the officer didn’t have any reason to shoot the man until he knew for sure.  Since the man is dead, we won’t ever know what he was thinking.  We only have the video from the officer’s body cam and dash cam and neither is clear enough to see what really happened.”

“There’s the testimony of another officer who came on the scene just as it was going down.  He testified he thought the man had a pistol and was turning to use it.  He said he’d have fired too if the other officer hadn’t been in his line of fire.”

“Well, I’d expect any police officer to defend one of their own.”

It was useless to continue arguing with her.

“All I can say is I hope you never find yourself in a similar situation.”

I was still steamed at the end of my shift.  Evidently Valerie knew that because she didn’t say two words to me for the rest of the night.  She didn’t even comment when I stopped a pickup for a broken taillight and then let the guy go with a warning.  She didn’t say goodbye when I took her back to the station.

The next night started out pretty quiet.  For the first half of the shift, I just drove my patrol route without seeing anything suspicious.  

Valerie still wasn’t talking to me even though I tried to start a conversation over lunch at the same hamburger place.  She just nodded and said “I’m OK” when I asked how she was doing.

We were just pulling back out on the street in front of the burger place when a blue sedan pulled into the parking lot.  The sedan had tinted windows I was sure were too dark to be legal because even with the outside lights of the restaurant shining through them, I couldn’t make out the driver.  I turned to Valerie.

“See that blue sedan?  I don’t like the look of the windows.”

“Why?  Because they’re tinted?  Lots of cars have tinted windows.  It doesn’t mean anything so why are you going to harass him?”

“I understand windows tinted for styling, but those are so dark I can’t see the driver and they didn’t come from the factory that way.  They’re tinted that way because the driver doesn’t want to be seen.  I’m going to go ask him why he doesn’t want to be seen.”

I drove around the block and turned off my headlights when I turned onto the street beside the burger place. I wasn’t sure what was I was going to find, but I knew if they saw the patrol car, they might run and I didn’t want to chase them.  Car chases any time are dangerous for all involved. Car chases at night are a lot worse.

The street lights were out on that side of the burger place, so I parked on the street a little way up from the blue sedan.  After cautioning Valerie to stay in the patrol car, I walked across the street to talk to the driver, but one look through the window of the burger place sent a chill down my spine.

Two guys wearing hoodies were standing at the order counter and the young girl behind the register looked terrified because one of them had a pistol pointed at her.  I keyed the mike on my radio.

“Eight zero four niner.  I’m at Buddy’s Burgers on Eighth and Jones.  Armed robbery in progress.  Request immediate backup.”

Before Central could answer, I heard the response from another patrol car.

“Eight zero four niner, eight zero three seven enroute your location.  ETA about four minutes.”

I walked backwards to my patrol car, keeping my eyes on the two people all the time.  When I got there, I walked around and opened Valerie’s door.  

“Valerie, there are two men in there with a pistol pointed at the counter girl.  I’ve requested backup and they’ll be here in a few minutes.  This could go south in a heartbeat, so do not under any circumstances get out of the patrol car.”

“What are you going to do?”

“Nothing until they come out.  If I try to go in, they might kill the counter girl or use her as a hostage.  Even if that doesn’t happen, they wouldn’t have a second thought about shooting me.”

There were two other cars in the burger place parking lot.  I figured they belonged to the counter girl and probably a cook because there was nobody else in the place other than the two guys.  I crouched down beside the car that would let me watch the door and give me some cover and waited.

The two guys didn’t waste much time.  The guy with the gun shoved it in the girls face and said something.  She was shaking and looked like she was crying when she opened her register and handed them the money.  The guy with the gun handed the bills to his partner, then waved the gun.  The girl ran back inside the kitchen area.  The two guys then ran out the door and started to get into the sedan.  

I raised up a little and yelled, “Police officer.  Put the gun on the hood of your car and get down on the ground.”

The guy with the pistol raised it in my direction in that dumb-ass sideways position you see in the movies and fired at the same time I did.  He was still standing when I fired twice more.  

The guy with the gun fell down.  The other took off running.  I’d run up to the shooter, kicked the pistol to the side and was checking to see if he was still alive when Jack pulled his patrol car into the lot and ran up beside me.

“Hey Ron.  Got here as soon as I could, but it looks like you don’t need me after all”, he said.

“No, I still do.  I got this guy but the other ran off down Sixth.  He’s wearing brown pants and a black hoodie.  I didn’t see a weapon, but he may be armed like this one was.”

“I’ll call Central for another car and the coroner and then start looking.  This asshole must have been a really lousy shot.  He hit your patrol car and it’s twenty feet to the right of where he is now.”

“He hit my car?  Oh, God, no.  Valerie’s in there.”

I ran back to my car.  The driver’s side window was just shards of glass all over the driver’s seat.  When I opened the door, I saw what I’d hoped and prayed hadn’t happened.

Valerie was still sitting there, but she had a strange look on her face and she had her hands over her right breast.  She tried to say something, but coughed up blood instead of words.

I keyed my mike.

“Eight zero four niner.  I need EMT’s at Buddy’s Burgers on sixth.  I have a civilian woman with a gunshot wound to the chest.”

Jack ran up to my car with his first aid kit.

“How bad is she hurt?”

“I don’t know.  The guy only had a .22, but she got it in the chest and she’s coughing up blood.”

I looked at Valerie.

“Valerie, you’ve been shot and I have the EMT’s on the way.  I have to stop the bleeding.  Just try not to move.”

I ripped her blouse open then and saw the blood running from the hole in her bra.  I felt around her back, but didn’t find an exit wound.  Evidently, the window had slowed the light bullet enough it only went in and didn’t come back out.

 “I know it hurts, Valerie, but it can’t be helped.  Just stay with me.  It’s not bad and we’ll get you fixed up in a couple of minutes.”

I’d lied to her, of course.  Any chest wound is life threatening.  I couldn’t tell if the bullet had hit anything vital or not, but Valerie was gasping for breath.  That meant it was a sucking chest wound and she couldn’t breath unless I could seal the wound somehow.  I’d learned how in one of the first aid classes all officers repeat each year but I’d never had to do it.  I hoped I remembered right and yelled back at Jack.

“Give me a gauze pad and the wrapper.”

I turned to Valerie.

“I have to take off your bra and I’m going to cut it in front.  Hold still so I don’t cut you too.”

I slipped my knife blade under her bra band in front and pulled.  The blade went through the material like butter.  As soon as her breast was bared, I slapped the plastic gauze wrapper over the hole and then held it in place with the gauze pad.  Valerie was still gasping but it looked like she was getting at least some air.  I hoped it was enough to keep her alive until the EMT’s got there.

Valerie was breathing a little better after a couple of minutes and the pad was keeping her from bleeding too badly.  When I looked up, I saw the flashing lights of the EMT van and a few seconds later, Bill and Melody wheeled a gurney up beside the patrol car.  After opening the passenger door, Bill replaced my hand with his and between Melody, Jack, and I, we got Valerie out of my car and onto the gurney while he kept the wound sealed.  While Bill taped a plastic square over the hole in Valerie’s chest, Melody felt for Valerie’s pulse, used her flashlight to check Valerie’s eyes, and then reached in her case.  

“She’s going into shock and her heart rate is over a hundred.  I’m going to put in an IV to keep her blood pressure up.  After that, you get in back with her and I’ll drive to Memorial.  That’s the closest.”

After we put Valerie in the EMT van, they raced off toward the hospital.  I went back to finish up the investigation.  I was glad another unit showed up.  I wasn’t really very efficient.

I called Memorial as soon as I got back to the station.  It wasn’t much relief to hear that Valerie was still in surgery, but at least she was still alive.  I called the next day and learned that she was out of surgery and in intensive care.  I asked if she could have visitors, but they said only family.  It wasn’t until two days later they moved her into a room and let me come see her.

She was sitting up watching television when I knocked on her room door.  She looked over, sighed, and then waved me in.

“I suppose you’re here to say you told me so.

I smiled.

“No.  I’m here to say I’m sorry I caused you to get hurt and to ask if there’s anything I can do for you.”

“You didn’t get me shot.  I was just in the wrong place at the wrong time.”

“If I’d taken the guy down faster – “

“I don’t know how you’d have done that.  I saw you shoot at about the same time the window broke and the bullet hit me in the chest.”

“Well, I appreciate you saying that.  How you feeling?  The nurse said you’re gonna be OK.”

Valerie smiled.

“Oh, I’m just peachy.  It only hurts when I breathe, I have a tube in my chest, and I’m going to have a scar on my right boob.”

I smiled back.

“The pain will get better with time.  I did with me anyway.  They’ll take out the chest tube in a week or so.  As for the scar, it’ll just be something to remind you about how lucky you are.”

“You’ve been shot before?”

“Yeah, my first year on the force.  I was stupid and thought I could talk the guy down.  I also hadn’t put on my vest because it was hot that day.  He got me in the chest with a .38.”

“So that’s why you’re so defensive about using force.”

I shrugged.

“Part of it, I suppose.  The other part is what I already told you.  I don’t want anybody to get hurt.”

“Did you get them both?  I didn’t see anything after I got shot.”

“The guy who shot you is in the morgue.  We caught the other guy later that morning.  He’s in jail awaiting arraignment right now on charges of armed robbery and negligent homicide.  He won’t get off.  The restaurant had surveillance cameras that recorded everything, and the counter girl picked him out of a lineup.  He still had the money too, so the restaurant will get that back after the trial.  Both had records of armed robbery in the past.”

“Well, that’s good.  I wish I could write the story, but they say I won’t be doing much of anything for a while.”

“Yeah, they always say that, but don’t let it get you down.  You’ll be on your feet and back at work before you know it.  Well, I don’t want to keep you from your TV program.  I’ll leave you my card.  If you need anything, just give me a call, OK?”

Valerie never called me, so I figured she was getting on with her life.  I kept looking at the newspaper for anything she’d written, but I didn’t find anything and that didn’t really surprise me.  It had taken me two months to get back on restricted duty and another three before the doctor certified me for regular duty, so she was probably just recuperating.

It was almost six months later when I ended my shift and was taking my paperwork to the Commander when his secretary said someone was in the lobby waiting for me.  When I walked through the door, there was Valerie.  I walked up and stuck out my hand.

“Hi there, Valerie.  Looks like you’re all healed.”

She smiled that same pretty smile.

“Well, it still hurts a little to take a deep breath, but the doctor says that’ll go away in another month or two.”

“So, what brings you down here?”

“Well, I never did thank you for what you did for me that night and I feel bad about that.  The surgeon at the hospital told me if you hadn’t known what to do, I’d have died.”

“All I did is what any officer would have done.  You don’t have to thank me.”

“Yes, I do.  Have you had breakfast yet?”

I smiled.

“I really can’t accept anything from you, Valerie.  It’s against department policy for an officer to accept any kind of reward for doing his job.”

“OK, what if we went for breakfast but we each paid for our own food.  Could you do that?”

“Yeah, I suppose that would be OK.  You sure you want to eat breakfast with a cop?  As I remember, you don’t think much of us.”

Valerie smiled.

“Maybe I’ve changed my mind a little.  How about that IHOP place on Tenth?”

We were finishing our second cup of coffee when Valerie looked at me and smiled.

“How’s it been going without me in your patrol car?”

I shrugged.

“About like always, I guess.  The bad guys haven’t stopped being bad guys and we haven’t stopped trying to catch them.”

“Anybody shoot at you lately?”

“No, not since that night.”

She ran a fingertip around the lip of her coffee cup.

“You know, I did a lot of thinking in the hospital and then when I got home.  That night in your patrol car, I was sure I was going to die.  Then, when I woke up in the hospital, I was mad at you for making that guy shoot at you and getting me hurt.  I thought of all sorts of ways you could have stopped him without making him do that.”

She sighed.

“I guess I was feeling sorry for myself and trying to find someone to blame.  After you came to see me, though, I played what happened over and over in my mind again.  When I tried out the other ways you could have just arrested him, none of them worked because his first reaction was to try to kill you.  The fact he shot me was why I realized why you had to shoot him.  I was the only one else around that night, but if there had been other people there and he’d have kept shooting, some of them probably wouldn’t have been a lucky as I was.  You really didn’t have a choice.

“That led me to think back to the articles I’ve written in the past about how much force the police use.  When I wrote those articles, I hadn’t seen how far criminals will go to keep from getting caught, and I didn’t realize how fast things can happen sometimes.  The more I thought about those times, the more I started to realize that at least most of the time, the cops are doing what they think will keep everyone around safe.”

I smiled.

“So riding with me did do some good.”

Valerie nodded.

“Yes, but not how you think.  I won’t be writing any articles to tell people how you cops really do your jobs.  I quit last week.”

“You quit?  Why?”

“I thought about staying there and writing about what happened that night, but then I realized I was only popular because I kept criticizing the police department.  People always like the underdog, and unfortunately, for a lot of people in Nashville the underdog is the suspect you guys arrest.  After riding with you and what you did for me, I couldn’t do that anymore.”

“So, what are you going to do now?”

Valerie took a deep breath.

“I went to college to become a novelist.  When I got out, I found out that’s a tough  nut to crack.  It costs a lot of money to print a book and get it on the shelves, and the publishers already have a stable of writers they can count on to write stuff that will sell. I had to have an income, so I got the job at the newspaper, but I’ve always wanted to write novels.  I did write one novel that first year but it got rejected so I’d pretty much given up until I got shot.

I couldn’t go back to writing what I’d been writing, so I quit.  I’ve saved enough to keep a roof over my head and living comfortably for about two years, so I’m going to try writing a novel again.”

“Well, I wish you the best.  What are you going to write about?”

Valerie grinned.

“I did some research over the past months.  Crime novels still sell pretty well, so I’m going to try one of those.  I have it started and it’s going to be about what happens to a woman who rides with a police officer to monitor what they do.  I showed what I’ve written so far to one of my old college professors, and he said he’d put in a good word with a publisher he knows.  After that one, I’ll find another crime and write about that.  It would make it easier if I could ride with you again.  Could I?  I volunteered for five nights and I only got three so you owe me two more.”

I smiled and shook my head.

“Well, that program is over now, so I can’t really let you ride with me again.”

“Damn”, she grinned.  “I was hoping I could.”

She sipped her coffee and then looked up at me.

“If I can’t ride with you, maybe you could tell me what happens so I could write about that.  Would that work?”

“Uh…well, you realize I can’t discuss any open cases with you.  There are some things we don’t make public because they’ll either be used to catch our suspect or in the trial.  If those things became public, the suspect’s lawyer would ask for a change of venue or ask the judge to dismiss the case.”

“I could go to the trial and use what happens there in my book, so you wouldn’t have to tell me the details.  What I’d need from you is how you found out about the crime and how you caught the guy, the kind of stuff you see on the news every night.”

“I don’t know.  Some of that stuff does end up in the trial.”

“Well, some cops have to talk about what they do.  Surely the married guys tell their wives what happens at work.”

“Yeah, but they’re married and their wives know not to talk about it.”

Valerie grinned at me.

“So, I’d have to marry you to get you to tell me anything?”

I grinned.

“That’s a bit extreme, don’t you think?”

“Well, I have to get my information somehow.  How about if you were my anonymous source in the police department?”

I chuckled.

“You know, I’d like to make detective someday, and from my experience, those anonymous sources sometimes get fired.”

“Isn’t there anything you can tell me, like what you did on your last shift?”

“All that happened last night was I arrested a guy for DUI and broke up a domestic dispute.”

“Did the guy resist?”

“No, he was too drunk to do much of anything besides throw up right before I put him in my patrol car.  I had to wake him up when I got him back to the station.”

“How about the woman in the domestic dispute?”

I smiled.

“Well, it was two guys.”

Valierie giggled.

“They were gay?”

“Let’s just say one of them was really in touch with his feminine side.  A neighbor called it in.  When I got there, it wasn’t really much of a dispute.  They were just having a little spat about like any other couple would have.  What I think really was going on is the neighbor just didn’t like having a gay couple next door and was trying to get them in trouble.

What it all boiled down to was the one guy was crying because the other had forgotten the anniversary of the day they met.  The other was trying to apologize, but the guy doing the crying wasn’t listening.  

Well, I was there and the neighbor would expect me to do something, so I hung around and talked to them both.  After about half an hour, they’d talked it out and seemed to be OK, so I left without really doing anything besides calming the one down enough he started to listen.  They were hugging when I left.”

She chuckled.

“I could write the gay guys as a side plot, but that wouldn’t make a whole novel.  I need something with real meat, like a string of armed robberies or a murder.  Had any of those lately?”

“No armed robberies, but we’re averaging about three murders a month right now.”

“Can you tell me about one or two?”

I smiled.

“Yes, I could if I didn’t have to work tonight.  I need to get home and get myself to bed.”

Valerie grinned.

“I forgot you work nights, I guess.  When’s the next time you’re off for a day or two?”

I’m still not sure how I let her talk me into going to her apartment, but that’s where I ended up the next Wednesday night.  Over coffee, I told her about one of the murders I’d helped investigate.  She was full of questions.

“The victim was a seventeen year old kid?”

“Yeah, but that’s not unusual.  Most of our murders are either gang or drug related.  The people involved are usually younger than twenty five.  This one was a gang thing, and most of those involved were under twenty.”

“Were you able to catch them?”

“We caught the shooter who killed the kid, but it was really by accident.  Like usual, nobody at the crime scene would admit to seeing anything, so we didn’t have much to go on.  We found him on surveillance video at the convenience store he robbed a couple weeks later.  He was only nineteen, but we knew who he was because he’d been arrested twice before and spent some time in Juvenile Detention.  When we picked him up on the robbery charge, he had a pistol and our routine check matched the bullets fired from the pistol he was carrying to the one that killed the kid.  

“He claimed he’d bought the pistol two days before that and gave us the name of the seller.  We brought in the seller and told him we were going to charge him with first degree murder since we had a witness who would testify he sold our witness the pistol the day after the shooting.  One of the detectives interrogated him for an hour, but the guy kept saying he didn’t know our suspect, had never had a gun, and was on the other side of Nashville that night.  

The detective then told him we had three witnesses who would testify they saw him there and saw him shoot the kid, but we’d drop the charge down to reckless homicide if he’d come clean.  If he didn’t, the DA was going to take it to court and recommend the death penalty.  We didn’t know any of that, but he didn’t know we didn’t.”

“You lied to him?”

“Yes, we can say pretty much anything we want to a suspect until the case goes to trial.  We have to tell the truth on the witness stand, but before that, we can lie as much we want.  It usually works.  Most of these kids are pretty dumb about laws and how law enforcement works, so telling them we can pin a crime on them often results in a confession to what they really did and the agreement to testify in court if we let them plead to a lesser offense.”

“So what did he tell you?”

“The whole thing was over a rival gang member saying the shooter’s sister was a prostitute.  She actually is, but apparently our shooter thought that was disrespectful.  He got several of his gang together and went looking for the rival gang member.  Our second guy was one of them, but he said he didn’t have a gun so our shooter gave him one to use.  He told us where the weapon was hidden, and when we found it, our shooter’s fingerprints were all over the grip, the magazine, and on each cartridge, so that sort of confirmed the second guy’s story.  He also agreed to testify to that and that he’d seen our shooter firing.

“When we told our suspect all that, he finally came clean and pled to voluntary manslaughter.  He’ll likely get about ten years and be out in eight if he behaves himself.”

“Only ten years?  That doesn’t seem like much for killing someone.”

I frowned.

“No, it’s not fair to the victim, but it does get the shooter off the street and the city saves the cost of a trial.  If he was still out there, he’d probably do it again.  With any luck, he’ll decide prison time isn’t worth it and change.  I doubt it, but maybe.”

“What did the second guy get?”

“Well, since we really had only his confession to being there and having a weapon, we ended up charging him with possession of a firearm with intent to cause harm.  He pled guilty and got a year in prison.”

Valerie smiled.

“I can’t tell you how much this helps.  I’d like to hear more.  Could we do this again the next time you’re off?”

We continued to meet on my off nights for about six months.  I’d go to Valerie’s apartment and over coffee, I’d tell her about the cases in which I’d been involved or had direct knowledge of.  She’d ask questions and take notes.  

I started looking forward to those days with her.  When I’d first met Valerie, I’d pegged her as pushy, overbearing, and convinced she was always right.  Over that six months, I changed my mind.  Valerie was definitely a confident woman and she said what she thought, but she also listened and tried to understand what I said.  

At first, it was a little disconcerting that she asked some very pointed questions about what I did and why, and I was probably pretty defensive, but then I realized she was just trying to make her writing as true to life as she could.  Telling her how I’d felt during an investigation or an arrest was helping her understand how a police officer thinks and why he makes the decisions he makes.

Valerie called me in January of that year and she was excited.

“My book got published and I got a check.  Wanna help me celebrate?”

I asked what she had in mind.  She giggled.

“Well, going out to have a few drinks would probably end up with you arresting me, so that won’t work.  How about if I get a pizza and some beer and you come over?”

The pizza was great - thick crust and loaded with meat, cheese, peppers and olives like a pizza should be.  She’d bought a little cake to celebrate, so I crammed a piece into my already stuffed stomach.  When I pushed back from her table, Valerie asked me to sit still while she got something.

She came back with a copy of her book.  The cover had the title “The Shotgun Rider” and a picture of a very sexy woman sitting in a patrol car along with a very muscular patrol officer.  When I opened the cover, I saw she’d written a note and signed it.

To Ron, who gave me a second chance at life.  I can’t thank you enough.  Valerie Wilson.

She was grinning when I looked up from the book.

“I thought since you’re a big part of the book, you should have a copy.  I changed you enough nobody will know it’s you, but what my officer does are the same things you’ve told me about.”

“I thank you, and I promise I’ll read it.  I probably should be going now, though.  It’s almost ten and you still need your rest.”

Valerie grinned and stepped in front of me.

“Not so fast, Sir.  Have you been drinking tonight?”

“Well, sure I have.  You saw me.”

“Sir, you look a little confused to me.  Are you sure you’re OK to drive?”

“Valerie, I’m a big guy and two beers over three hours on top of all the food I ate isn’t going to do anything to me.”

“Well, I need to make sure.  Put your feet together and your hands to your sides, and then lift one foot and count to ten.”

“Valerie, this is silly.  I’m not drunk.”

She grinned.

“That’s what they all say, but here’s how it is.  You’re either going to do what I say, or I’m going to have to get rough with you.  I don’t think you want that.  Now, feet together and close your eyes.”

I did what she’d asked and was standing there on one foot waiting for her to tell me I was OK when she put her arms around my neck and pushed her breasts into my chest.  That threw me off balance and I had to step back to stay upright.  Valerie giggled.

“Aha…just as I thought.  You can’t stand up by yourself.  You’ve had too much to drink tonight and I’m going to arrest you and lock you up until morning.  Don’t try to resist or it’ll only get worse.”

“That wasn’t a fair test.  You pushed me back.”

“Doesn’t matter.  You’re still under arrest until I figure out who you are.”

“Valerie, I’ve been coming over here for six months.  You already know who I am.”

She shook her head.

“No, you look like Officer Ron James, but I need proof.  The real Officer Ron James has a scar from a bullet wound.  Do you have any scars?”

“I have scars on my chest and back from a bullet wound.”

Valerie looked up at me and grinned.

“If you show me yours, I’ll show you mine.”

I was pretty sure where Valerie was headed with all this and I wasn’t sure it was a good idea.  I’ve had a few women who tried to thank me for helping them like that and it never worked out for me.  I didn’t think Valerie would be any different.

“Valerie, if we do this, you know how it’s going to end up.  Are you sure that’s what you want?”

Valerie grinned.

“If I wasn’t sure, I wouldn’t be trying to get you in my bed.”

“What caused you to want this all of a sudden?”

“Ron, stop being a cop and asking so many questions.  Just take off your shirt.”  

“I can’t take off my shirt with you hanging on me like this.”

“Promise you won’t run?  I won’t let you go unless you promise.”

Valerie’s hands on my chest and back were more than any man could ignore.  When she took off her blouse and bra, she looked up at me and grinned.

“I got a tattoo around my scar so it doesn’t look quite so bad.  Like it?”

The tattoo was a teddy bear and the scar was its tummy.  Valerie grinned.

“He likes to be petted.  Why don’t you pet him.”

I stopped caring if this was right or not.  When I cupped her right breast and stroked her nipple with my thumb, she caught her breath.

“You passed this test, but there are more.”

“Like what?”

“Take off your clothes.”

“How is that a test?”

“I need to see if you’re responsive or not.”

Well, my cock was already responding.  Just the sight of Valerie standing there with her full breasts in my hands had already done that.  I responded even more after I pulled off my slacks and underwear because she closed her small hand around my stiff cock and stroked it a little.

“Hmm…you seem to be responding OK.  It’s time for the last test.”

I chuckled.

“There isn’t much left.”

“Aaah, but what’s left is the best part.”

The best part started out with Valerie telling me to lay back on her bed while she took off her shoes, jeans and panties.  She climbed on top of me then, stretched out so her breasts were mashed into my chest, and planted her mouth on mine.  As she made love to my mouth with hers, I felt her rubbing her dark brown bush against my cock.  I slipped my hands down her sides and gently pulled her ass cheeks apart, then slipped my right hand down until my fingertips touched hair.

When I stroked her pussy lips, Valerie moaned and then stuck her tongue in my mouth.  If my cock hadn’t already been rock hard, that would have done it.  The little rock her hips made when my finger slipped between her satin soft lips was just icing on the cake.  I didn’t think women got ready so fast, but apparently Valerie did.  She pushed back into my searching finger and then gasped when one fingertip touched her clit.

Valerie stopped kissing me, put her lips to my ear, and murmured, “fuck me”.

“You’re ready?”

“I’ve been thinking about this all day.  Now, fuck me.”

I didn’t believe her until I slipped one finger into her entrance, but when I did, there was no doubt.  As soon as my finger found her entrance, Valerie pushed back and my finger slipped inside her.  She moaned and started moving her hips up and down a little, fucking herself with my finger.  When I slipped in another finger, she gasped, “don’t wait.  I want you now.”

My cock went in a little harder than my fingers, and I stopped pushing as soon as things tightened up.  I pulled back out, then pushed in again.  When my cock head got to that tight spot again, Valerie jerked her body down and impaled herself.  After that, well, I sort of just let her do what she wanted.

What she wanted was to raise up until she was sitting on my thighs with my cock buried inside her.  After a little shudder and a couple of moans, Valerie started riding my cock.  She wasn’t fast, but damn, she was great.  At the end of every stroke, I’d feel her pussy clench around my shaft.  She’d hold herself there for a second, and then raise back up, stop when my cock head caught on that snug spot, and then slowly sink down again.

After a few strokes, she pulled my hands to her breasts, and then gasped when I thumbed her nipples.  She gasped again when I pinched them lightly, and it felt like she got slipperier inside.  That slippery feeling didn’t take anything away from the sensations I was feeling.  It just let me know she liked what I was doing.

It was a little while later that Valerie eased down on her hands and poked her left nipple into my face.  I saw her smile when I closed my lips around that nipple and sucked gently.  I saw her open her mouth when I used my teeth to lightly pinch that same nipple, and I heard the loud moan she made when she pulled back.

I wasn’t pinching her nipple very hard, so after she’d pulled back enough to stretch her breast into a cone, the nipple slipped out of my teeth.  She murmured, “again” and poked her right nipple in my face.  When I nipped that nipple, Valerie groaned and slammed her body down over my cock.

Things came to a head a little while later.  Well, they came to my cock head anyway.  Valerie started to pant, and murmured, “Oh God, it’s coming”, and that made me feel that tightening that warned me I was going to cum if she didn’t slow down.  I whispered that to her, but Valerie didn’t answer me.  She just started riding a little faster and I felt her hand slide between us.  

She was rubbing her clit when I couldn’t hold back any more.  It wasn’t any conscious effort that made me thrust up into Valerie’s down stroke.  It was just instinct, I guess.  I guess it was instinct that made Valerie cry out softly and push down over my cock hard.  I felt her finger against my belly as it fluttered over her clit.  

By then, I was gone.  The first spurt raced up my shaft and burst free inside Valerie.  I don’t really remember the others because Valerie started to shake as the waves swept through her body.  All I remember is a very intense sensation that seemed to go on and on, a sensation so intense I was gasping for breath when she eased back down on top of me and nestled her face into my shoulder.

She panted right along with me for a while, then took a deep breath and giggled.

“Well, that told me what I needed to know.  You’re in no shape to drive.  I’ll have to keep you overnight so you can sober up.”

I woke up the next morning to Valerie’s hand slowly stroking my cock.  It was already stiff because I had to pee in the worst way.  Evidently, Valerie did too, because when I asked her where the john was, she got up, took me by the hand, and led me there.  She watched as I let fly, and when I was done, kept me there by holding my cock while she sat down and did the same.  Once she’d blotted, she ran a fingertip around my cock head and grinned.

“You seem OK, but I think I’m going to test you again, just to make sure.”

“You gonna tell me why we’re doing this?”

“If you pass my test, I will.  Now, shut up and come back to bed.”

This time Valerie wanted to be on her back.  She said it was to see if I was coordinated or not.  After about fifteen minutes of me sucking her nipples and sliding two fingers in and out of her pussy, she pulled me down on top of her and whispered, “I’m ready.  Do me now.”

It took Valerie another fifteen minutes of so before she dug her nails into my back, arched up off the mattress, and gasped, “Oh, God, don’t stop”.  I was beyond any control too, and when she made the second lurch up into my stroke, I pumped the first spurt inside her.  She was still arched up and shaking when I pumped in the second and third.  The fourth wasn’t much of a spurt, but it felt almost as great.  

Valerie pulled me back down on top of her and held me there until she stopped panting.  Then she chuckled.

“I guess you’re coordination is fine.  You coordinated me so much I sort of lost track of everything for a while.”

“Well, cops try hard to help people.  You gonna tell me why you wanted me to help you last night and then again this morning?”

“I will, but right now, just stay like you are.  I like feeling you inside me.”

As always happens, my cock softened to the point it slipped out.  I rolled to Valerie’s side to take my weight off her.  She snuggled up beside me, pushed her breasts into my side, and draped her thigh over mine.  She kissed me, then pulled back and then ran a fingertip through the hair on my chest.

“Still want to know why?”

“I’m dying to know why.”

“Well, when I started writing that first novel, I needed something going on besides the woman just riding along with the officer.  What I was going to write about the arrests they made would be interesting, but probably wouldn’t sell very well.  What always sells is sex, so I had them develop a relationship over the week.  

“In my novel, the woman begins to understand how and why police officers do what they do, and she also realizes she’s attracted to the cop she’s riding with.  I don’t want to spoil the book for you by telling you how that all plays out, but they end up in bed together.

“The more I wrote, the more I realized I was writing about myself.  I didn’t like you very much that first night.  I figured you were just the average macho cop out to beat up anybody you arrested.  The second night, when you stopped that girl for drunk driving, you surprised me by being human and having some sympathy for her.  

“I didn’t put the part about me getting shot in the book, but I did think about it a lot.  What happened that night convinced me you were right about why you have to use force sometimes.  What you did for me that night after I got shot made me realize you’re not the guy you show to the people you arrest.

“As I kept writing, I started to think maybe I thought more for you than I’d admit to myself.  At first, I told myself it was just because you saved my life.  By the time I finished, I knew it was more, but it wouldn’t go anywhere because you never acted like you liked me.  I decided I had to try once to see if there was anything there.  That’s why I went to see you and asked if you could help me with my writing.

“You still didn’t act like there could be anything between us, so I decided I’d have to make the first move.  When my first novel got published, I had a reason to do that.  I still don’t know if there’s anything there except some really good sex, but I hope there can be.  What do you think?”

Up until that moment, I hadn’t thought about anything with Valerie.  Well, I was a little worried about her until I finally got to the hospital to see her, but that was professional.  When I thought about it more though, I’d never done that for any other person I’d helped.  I’d also kept looking for her newspaper articles every day, and while I wasn’t surprised at not finding any, I was disappointed.

At first, when we met on our days off, it was kind of nice to have somebody listen to what I did.  Cops don’t get to tell how they feel to people other than other cops because most people wouldn’t try to understand.  After a while though, I looked forward to those meetings as much because Valerie was there as I did because she was interested in what I did.  I don’t think I was actually cognizant of that, but when I thought back, I remembered always being happy when she answered her door and invited me in.

“I don’t know, Valerie.  I do like you.  It’s just hard for me to say that.  You know more than most people about what an officer’s life is like.  Is being with one something you’d like to sign up for?  It means being disappointed a lot, and worrying about whether I’d come back to you some night.”

“I know about all that.  I’ve thought about it every time you called and said you’d be late because you were still on duty.  I can’t say I like it, but I do understand, and if that made a difference to me, you wouldn’t be laying in my bed and I wouldn’t be doing this.”

I felt her fingers stroke down my belly until they touched my cock.  It wasn’t ready to stand up yet, but if she kept that up, it was going to.

“If you keep doing that, we’re never going to get out of this bed.”

Valerie kissed me until I had to breathe, and then chuckled.

“If you had your handcuffs with you, I’d make sure you never got out of my bed.”

Valerie’s working on her third novel now.  It’s what she does when I’m at work.  The first one sold well, and the second got her a contract for another. The third is going to be about a prostitute who is a confidential informant for a detective.  As usual, I’m going to be the detective…well, her detective is going to be what I tell her detectives do and why they do it.

Yes, I made detective about six months after Valerie moved in with me.  A detective’s job is more about investigating than stopping bad guys so we’re both feeling a lot better about my job.  I’m still late getting home once in a while, but Valerie understands that.

She doesn’t want to get married, at least not yet.  I’m sure when she’s ready, she’ll tell me, because Valerie doesn’t keep her feelings to herself very well.  I like that about her.  There have been a few times when I didn’t like what those feelings were, but at least I always know where I stand, well, unless I’m laying on our bed while she rides my cock.  She seems to favor that position, but then, given how confident she is, I’m not surprised.