A sleepy day in a small town is broken as two men take the bank hostage.
|It was a slow day for the unofficial Deputy Chief, Lucas MacKade, formerly a New York City beat cop. To familiarize himself with the town, he was out on the streets like a regular patrol officer, listening intently for any alerts on his CB radio. It was silent. No one was speeding, and there were no wrecks to help clean up. With two hours left in his shift, and the chief out of town at a conference, Lucas had nothing to do but sit at one of the popular intersections to keep people from running the light.
As he sat there, he tried to keep from pondering about the events of the last five months. His efforts were futile, however. He closed his eyes as the events of that terrible night came back to him. Suddenly, he was back in that dark alley. He and his partner had gotten a call about possible gang activity in their area. Since the gang most prominent in that area was a well known anti-African American and anti-cop gang, a second car was sent to wait nearby as backup. Absentmindedly putting his hands on the steering wheel, he remembered driving down the narrow alley. When the partners spotted the troublemakers, Lucas had stopped the car. After an brief yet intense discussion, Lucas’s partner had climbed out of the car to approach the group. Lucas had watched his partner’s dark silhouette in his headlights, noting how the man’s dark skin and outfit blended into the night. Suddenly, one of the gang members had pulled out a gun. Neither officer had had time to react as the gunman had quickly aimed and fired, shooting the approaching officer at nearly point-blank range. The rest seemed to happen in slow motion. Lucas could still remember the way his partner’s head had snapped backward as the bullet hit. His upper body had continued backward towards the ground even as his legs buckled lifelessly beneath him.
Lucas’s instincts and training likely saved his life that day. Even as his mind was screaming in horror, the officer’s body had responded to the threat by throwing the driver’s door open, slipping out of the car, and using the door as a shield. He had automatically pulled out his weapon and pointed it at the gang members. He had focused his gaze on the gunman, seeing but not truly comprehending the smirk on the latter’s face as the young man had casually tossed the gun aside in favor of a large club. Slowly, the man in blue had scanned the rest of the gang, searching for other weapons. All had been carrying bats or clubs. Expecting more trouble, Lucas had not allowed his gaze to focus on any single member in front of him. Though it had seemed like an eternity, the sirens that had preceded the arrival of their backup had started not long after the gunshot. Upon hearing the sound, one of the other gang members, a young man with red spikes in his hair, had given the order to scatter. At the words, Lucas had turned his focus to the owner of the voice. Stunned for a second time, the officer had remained behind his car door, frozen in shock and disbelief.
The arrival of the other officers had jolted Lucas out of his stupor. Suddenly older than his years, he had stumbled to his partner’s side. Even in the headlights, the grief-stricken man had a hard time seeing the trail of blood running down the almost coal black skin of the downed officer. The following two months just continued the nightmare. Knowing that to two men had been close, the assistant chief of their patrol bureau had given Lucas a month off and ordered counselling to allow the officer time to deal with the death of his partner. When the grieving and angry officer returned, he had thrown himself into his work. Still pained by the senseless death of his partner and friend, he had turned reckless, charging in to dangerous situations without caution. Concerned about Lucas’s apparent death wish, the assistant chief confronted the troubled officer with an ultimatum. Resign as a police officer or transfer to a different town where he could start over. He had chosen the latter.
Serenity Falls was now his home. And the transfer was also a promotion of sorts, since he had been far lower on the career ladder when he lived in New York. But Chief William Hardy had insisted that he felt that Lucas could do the job. Perhaps the chief was right to put his faith in him. After all, the crime rate was so low here that he almost felt like he was in Mayberry, just with more police. In the three months since he had moved to town, no crimes had been committed more serious than speeding or running red lights and stop signs. Suddenly, his radio came to life. “Robbery in progress at Serenity Falls Bank.”
Lucas’s forest green eyes widened as he snatched up his mic. Well, that was a bit more serious than simple traffic violations! Not even considering the possibility that the robbery could be a hoax, his first thoughts were of the employees and patrons who happened to be inside when the robbers arrived. Opening his mouth to speak, he paused as he suddenly realized that this would be his first true test as Deputy Chief. He took a deep breath to calm himself, knowing that the other officers would look to him. “MacKade responding. Send me anyone you can.”
“Roger, Deputy Chief. Consider it done.” The dispatcher responded.
Lucas wasted no time putting the car in drive and turning on his lights and siren. Instantly, traffic at the intersection came to a halt to allow him to pull out. He drove the block to the bank with intense concentration on the road ahead of him weaving expertly through the moderate traffic. As he pulled up to the bank, he noticed a car near the entrance that was parked in the way. He guessed that the car belonged to the robbers and that they were still inside. Scooping up his bullhorn, he quickly decided to speak from a position of strength. Besides, unless they had a way to blow a hole through the thick bank wall, his words would not truly be lies. “This is the police. We have the building surrounded. Come out with your hands up.”
The door opened slowly, and the sight before him made his heart sink. A tall man creeped slowly out of the building while holding a gun to a young woman’s head. The muscles of his arms bulged from his tight hold on the unresisting woman. In contrast to the tense stance of her captor, the woman’s body was relaxed and supple, moving with the man as if she knew where he was going to step next. The man pulled her away from the door as he shouted, “Do not come any closer, officer, or this woman will die! We have hostages and we are not afraid to use them!”
Lucas took a deep breath, trying to decide how to respond. He had to force himself to push his fear of failure aside. A cop who freezes under pressure is no good to anyone. As he pondered his response, he looked at the face of the hostage, expecting to see signs of fear. Instead, the brown-haired woman’s face was calm and controlled. Despite the circumstances, Lucas was mesmerized by the woman’s composure. How could she remain so calm with a gun to her head? He had seen grown men and even police officers crumble at gunpoint. He couldn’t help but admire the woman’s bravery. He raised the bullhorn again to respond. “That won’t be necessary. I can’t and won’t leave, but I will come no closer without permission. I would like to request that you do not use my presence as a reason to hurt anyone.”
He could see a smile spread across the robber’s face. At least that smile wasn’t as scornful and hateful as the one that he had seen on the man who had killed his partner. His amused retort didn’t come as a surprise, though. Must have come from the criminal handbook. “I think we can tolerate that. You seem like a smart man. I’m sure you can find a way to get us what we want.”
The robber dragged the young woman back inside. Lucas sat back down in his car, confused by the conflict running through his head. He felt a strong burst of fear and guilt brought on by seeing the woman held at gunpoint. He couldn’t fail her and the other hostages, not again. He was still trying to mend himself after failing to protect his partner. He knew what he had to do. Negotiation wasn’t something he practiced much in New York as a beat cop. He reached for his mic to call the station. The Denver FBI mobile unit was in town at the local school for a career fair. School had already let out for the day, but the Chief had said that they usually hang around afterwards so parents whose children were interested could ask questions, too. “Dispatch, contact the FBI mobile unit and see if they have left town. If not, get them here quickly. We have a hostage situation.”
Lucas then went over to the robber’s car and moved the vehicle to a parking lot across the street from the bank. If the robbers somehow escaped the bank, they would have to go looking for their car. Of course, the Deputy Chief hoped that such measures would not be necessary. If the robbers left the bank without a deal in place, it would likely mean that the hostages were dead, except for any they kept alive as human shields. It was up to him, and hopefully whoever was with the FBI mobile unit, to ensure the safety of the hostages and to free as many of them as possible. Walking back to his car, he glanced at his watched and groaned as he realized how late in the day it was. Even on Monday, there could be quite a few customers inside. He would need all the help he could get to prevent this situation from becoming the tragedy he feared it would be.