Heaven's Rending Ch. 02byAdrian Leverkuhn©
Chapter 2: Entropy and Sorrow's Kiss
Alan Burnett listened to an oldies radio station, an AM station that had been around since a year longer than forever - and that had a play-list that seemed comfortably lost in the seventies. Steely Dan was still Reelin' In The Years, and the cop sat in the air conditioned Dodge Police Interceptor, his thumbs drumming away on the steering wheel while he cruised down one suburban street after another, looking for something - anything - out of place. A door standing open, an unfamiliar car in a driveway, a shout, a scream, a barking dog, a woman in a bikini . . .
Almost an hour 'til lunch, he thought, yet he wasn't hungry. No calls this morning, no reports to write, yet . . . it seemed quiet - too quiet - for a summer morning. He turned a corner and headed down another street. Autopilot . . . he felt like he was on autopilot. Or maybe drifting, drifting through life. No, that's not quite right, he told himself with more conviction than he felt. He thought of himself within that moment as a sleepwalker might - he had to force himself to concentrate, his eyelids felt heavy, and he felt lost in a haze. But his eyes burned with fatigue. He couldn't sleep anymore; recent letters from Debbie's lawyer simmered in his mind, remnants of a stale marriage gone bad and the consequences reverberating through recent nights like a favorite old song heard too many times, memories good and bad bouncing around in the dark for so long they were no longer truths . . . they were just echoes of a bad dream.
No, he hadn't had a good night's sleep in weeks, and the dreams he had were simply a parody of love and the silent betrayal of an oath.
Down another street, up another alley, each beige brick house looking like the one next to it, endless in their monotonous acquiescence. Endless broken dreams, they seemed to stand as silent monuments to vapid futility and preening vanity. He thought about the lives that inevitably played out behind all those brick walls, and he imagined the lives inside each as mundane and trivial, full of bad marriages well on their way down the slippery slopes of dissolution. This was the beige life, he thought, dull and meaningless, all walled in little brick containers so nobody could see inside and look at the meaninglessness - be reminded of their own meaningless existence. He shook his head, tried to shake himself out of the blue funk he felt wrapped around his soul like a snake, then thought about talking to the department shrink. Maybe. But what was the point.
He listened as another unit checked out for lunch, and he looked down at his watch. He wanted a break in the monotony more than anything. The Doors wailed away on the radio. The Crystal Ship. An old man out watering his plants waved to him, and he waved back. No; the old guy was motioning him to stop. He pulled the squad car over to the curb and rolled down the window. He turned down the radio and leaned out the window.
"Morning! What's up," Officer Alan Burnett said.
"There's a strange van parked in the driveway out back," the old man said. "Been there about ten minutes. Couple of rough looking customers went in the garage."
"Right. Which one; can you point it out to me?"
"The brown over there," he said, pointing at yet another beige brick delusion. "Just to the left of that big pecan tree, other side of the alley."
"OK. We'll check it out," he said to the man as he reached for the radio mounted under the dashboard. He switched the channel to the primary and turned down Jim Morrison as he drove quickly to the corner. He stopped the car and got out, then paused and reached back into the front seat and removed the Remington 870 pump shotgun from the floor mounted rack. He craned his head a bit and looked at the back of the house in question, saw a beat up Ford Econoline van parked behind 511 Byron Court. "Ah, 2114," he said into the radio.
"Twenty-one fourteen, go ahead," the dispatcher replied.
"Signal 53, possible Signal five at five-one-one Byron Court. Going to move in toward the back of the house. Send back-up." He'd decided to report this incident as a suspicious vehicle with a possible burglary-in-progress. Oh well, he thought, might be an exciting day after all.
"2114 at 1143 hours. 2118, respond to 511 Byron Court, Signal 53, possible five in progress."
"2118, Code five."
"Units in route at 1144 hours."
Burnett moved along a weathered cedar fence until he came to a hedge, and he looked through the foliage at the van behind the house. He watched as a young man carried a television set from the house and put it in the van.
"2114, I think this is a five; one male white 20s with black hair exiting house with a television. Vehicle is a primer and brown Ford van, license 2 Mike Paul 333."
"2118, received. I'm about 2 minutes out."
"2118, received at 1147 hours. Ah, 2114, 2118 is about two minutes out."
"2114, received. Have units take the front of the house."
"2114, 10-4. Units responding to 5-1-1 Byron Court, officer on scene requests units cover front of the residence."
Burnett watched and listened. The young man with the television disappeared back into the house, and the old man from the street poked his head out into the alley. Burnett popped up and motioned to the old man, waved him away and he watched as he withdrew. Burnett broke cover and moved closer toward the house, then racked a round into the Remington. He heard the gunning engine of first one squad car then another, then units checking out by radio near the front of the house. Then . . . from inside the house . . .
"Fucking cops, man, let's move!"
Burnett heard running in the house, then one man emerged carrying a stuffed pillow-case in one hand and a rifle in the other. Burnett launched from his concealed position and yelled: "Freeze, Police!" just as a second man appeared in the garage. Burnett watched the first man drop the pillow case and raise the rifle; the second man had a pistol in his hand - and it was coming up, too.
"Drop the gun, NOW!" Burnett yelled. He could clearly see both men now, could make out both weapons. He was reacting now, not thinking, and time seemed to slow to a crawl. His right index finger snapped off the safety then slid to the trigger as he brought the shotgun up to his shoulder. The man with the rifle was the biggest threat, and he moved the sights on the front of the Remington toward him. He could clearly see the other man, see the rifle moving up to his shoulder, and Burnett aimed low, knowing that double-ought buckshot gained elevation when fired from this range, and he squeezed off a round. He racked the spent shell from the Remington and rammed a fresh round into the chamber as he sought out the other man, the man with the pistol.
Burnett heard "Signal 33, shots fired" on his hand radio, then felt the air above his head rippling. He heard the gunshot next, saw the man with the pistol down low in a crouch taking aim, and he covered this man in his sights and squeezed off another round. As the gun roared and recoiled, he racked the shotgun again, readied to fire again, and he looked for the next threat.
Then the smoke cleared.
The first man, the man with the rifle, lay on the garage floor. Motionless. Burnett moved slowly in that direction, his shotgun still up and covering the area. He moved cat-like, slowly on the outside of his feet, toward the garage. Out of the corner of his eye he saw another man in uniform moving down the side of the house toward his position. Burnett moved toward the driveway behind the house, and the man with the pistol emerged from behind some boxes and fired. Burnett fired again and watched as buckshot tore into the man's neck and shoulders; he heard another shot, and another, and turned to see that the other officer had exchanged fire with yet a third man, and each man had hit the other. The third man was raising his weapon to shoot at the other officer, and Burnett racked another round and fired at this man, then he chambered another round as quickly as he could.
Burnett moved quickly into the garage. Three suspects were down and quiet, and he moved to the stricken officer. "2114, officer down in the alley area, need ambulance code three this location." It was Charlie York, an almost sixty year old man, a thirty-plus year veteran of the department. "Fuck, Charlie, you OK?"
"2114 received at 1155 hours."
"Yeah - gasp - think so. Side hurts."
Burnett moved to York's side, it was a bloody mess above his left hip, and the unseen wound was bleeding profusely. Burnett felt another presence; it was the old man from across the alley. He dropped to his knees beside Burnett and ripped open a pack of gauze and slapped it on the wound. Then he heard another set of footsteps running up the driveway.
"You OK, Burnett?" he heard the shift Sargent calling out.
"I haven't checked the house. Or the van. Hang on a second. Hell, I haven't even checked the guys in the garage."
"Yeah, well, not much anyone can do for them, Alan. Three down."
Burnett heard sirens wailing in the distance, then a rough sounding engine drawing near. He turned to see an ambulance stopping behind him in the alley, then stood and ran to the garage. The Sargent was standing next to the door that led into the house from the garage, his pistol drawn. He pointed at his ears, then his eyes, and held up two fingers. He had heard and seen two more people in the house. Burnett took three shotgun shells from the elastic band on the shotgun's stock and slid them into the gun's tube, then he felt the safety to confirm it was still off and moved up to the door. Then he heard it.
The sound of a hammer being pulled back on a firearm.
Both Burnett and the Sargent jumped back away from the door as it exploded. Two men bolted from the shattered door then skidded to a stop as they confronted Burnett and the Sargent. The first man raised his weapon, a sawed off rifle of some sort, while the second started screaming "don't shoot, don't shoot!" Burnett simply said "Stop" to the man with the rifle; the end of the barrel of his Remington was aimed about six inches in front of the armed man's face. Little else needed to be said.
The man with the rifle dropped his weapon, looked at Burnett, and said "OK, Pig, you win."
"On your knees, hands behind your head," the Sargent said.
As Burnett and the Sargent handcuffed the two suspects, Burnett tried to recite the Miranda warning: "You have the right to remain silent . . .the right to a lawyer, blah, blah, blah," but that was as far as he could get. All of the tension and adrenaline of the last ten minutes flooded into his consciousness, and he felt his knees giving way, and he went to stand next to the garage wall.
"You all right, Alan?" the Sargent asked.
Burnett felt light-headed, and there was the nascent impulse of a burning sensation on his left forearm, and he absent-mindedly reached for it. He felt warm, slippery stuff on his arm and looked down to see a small trickle of deep, red blood running down his arm. "I think I've been shot," Burnett said to no one in particular. "I will be dipped in shit!"
About an hour later detectives from CID and Internal Affairs had finished photographing the entire house, and Burnett looked down at the tightly bound flesh-wound on his arm with a mixture of disbelief and annoyance. He watched a small cluster of detectives laughing and cracking jokes, and he walked over toward them, listening as he approached.
"Man, that's some weird shit in there. Never seen that kinda crap before," one of the men said as he laughed and shook his head.
"That's a strange-ranger there, that's for sure."
"Wouldn't want to run into that bitch in a dark alley, fuckin'-a!"
"Man, if my wife dressed up like that, I don't know what the shit I'd do!"
"Yeah, you'd cream your jeans, Pencil Dick!" The group laughed as they walked off, leaving Burnett with about two dozen unanswered questions hanging in the air apparent. The burglary was his call, so he was going to have to get the basics for his report, and then he'd head down to the ER at County and get his wound looked at by a doc. It was trivial, that much the Paramedic had said. Interviews with CID and IA would round out his day.
He walked into the house. It was generic, he saw; tan shag carpet, fake oak cabinets in the kitchen and beige wallpaper that looked like it was some kind of grass-textured vinyl. Papers were strewn all over the house, appliances knocked over by the burglars sat at odd angles on the counter-tops and the floor. Drawers stood open everywhere. He had his aluminum clipboard nestled under his good arm, and he walked into the living room. He heard a woman's voice in another part of the house, and he moved in that direction.
The voice he heard was calm - maybe too calm, he thought. There was a crisp edge to it, something vaguely menacing that ran under the surface of her voice like a knife. The woman was talking to an insurance agent; she was asking questions and writing down instructions, asking about options and where to get a clean up crew to help her get the house back in some kind of order. Burnett listened for a moment then knocked on the woman's bedroom door.
"Just a minute," the voice said. "Be right out."
Burnett heard the woman finish up her call, then she came out into the living room. When she entered the room it was all Alan Burnett could do not to stare.
The woman was tall, very tall, and her skin was almost white - pure white. Her hair was obviously colored, but it was an unattractive jet-black hue that made a patently stark contrast to her alabaster skin. Her eyes were electric blue, almost cobalt-blue, and were set off by heavy black and blue eye make-up. Her fingernails were painted black. She was, it seemed, dressed almost entirely in blackest black; an open black leather vest revealed a studded corset underneath, her short black skirt barely hid her black stocking tops, and she walked confidently into the room on shiny black leather high heels that had to be at least five inches tall.
Burnett looked at the delicate black choker around her neck as he bit his lower lip. His eyes went down to her ankles; there he observed a bracelet under her stocking around her right ankle. He suppressed a smirk for a moment as his eyes lingered on the woman's legs and shoes.
"Are you the officer who was shot?" the woman said, looking down at his left arm.
"Not really, Ma'am," he said. "This is just a flesh wound; Officer York was taken to County before you got here."
"How is he?" she asked.
"Haven't heard, Ma'am. Ah, listen, I've got to get some basic information for the burglary report. You'll need our service number for your insurance claim as well. I'll need to move from room to room and get an inventory from you of the stuff these guys tried to take."
"Do we have to do this today?" the woman asked.
"Yeah, 'fraid so. Won't take too long if we get to it. Where do you want to start?"
They made their way from room to room; Burnett wrote on his clipboard and looked furtively at the woman every chance he got while she grew more and more impatient and, it seemed, almost nervous. They came to a locked door off the main hallway.
"Uh, this door was locked; those guys never made it in here," she said.
"I'll still need to take a quick look in there, Ma'am."
"Why? I mean, really, if they didn't . . ."
"I have to, Ma'am. Report has to be completed; this is a four bedroom house, and I'll need four bedrooms accounted for in my report or the DA will roast my tail for supper . . ."
Exasperated, the woman took out a key and unlocked the door. "Help yourself, Officer," the woman said in a voice thick with barely restrained sarcasm.
Burnett entered the room - and he entered another world. The room had stone walls, and leather restraints were set into the stone on one wall at heights for wrists and ankles. A black and red padded-leather crucifix stood against another wall, restraints attached to this as well. A rolling cart stood in the middle of the room; it was stocked with sex toys and equipment to give an enema and electric shocks.
"Everything in this room accounted for, Ma'am?" Burnett asked. His face was a mask.
"I told you; no one came in here."
"Alright, Ma'am. Sorry for the intrusion." He took one last look around the room then walked out and headed back toward the kitchen. "Ah, Ma'am, I'll just need to get some basic information from you, name, date of birth, phone numbers, that kind of stuff."
The woman looked truly pained at this point, anxious for the cop to get out of her house. She walked into the kitchen and sat down at the breakfast room table. "I'd get you some coffee, but I think they took the coffee maker," her voice was still laced with cold sarcasm. Burnett heard her voice as defensive, and he didn't doubt for a moment why. She was a freak.
Burnett looked intently at the woman's face for the first time. Her eyes, he noticed, were pretty in a way, but they seemed cold, almost dead. Black, like a shark's eye, he thought. Cold, empty, the eyes of a dead soul. He caught himself staring at the woman, and after a moment he was aware that she was staring at him with equal intensity. There was no curiosity in the woman's eyes at all, nor shame. Just a cold, black void. He shook himself awake after a moment, feeling almost as though he had been in a trance, like he was looking at infinity - and infinity had looked unblinkingly right back..
"Sorry," he said as he rubbed the bandage on his arm. "I'm feeling pretty weird right now."
The woman looked down at his arm; the compression dressing was soaked in blood. Another little trickle ran down his arm and dropped on the breakfast room table. "You sure that's just a flesh wound? That looks like a lot of blood." She reached over and took his arm in her hand and unwrapped the dressing; a fresh pulse of deep red oozed out of the deep wound. "Whoa," the woman said, "let's get some pressure on that." She placed to dressing back over the wound and put his hand on it, then went into the bathroom off the kitchen and returned with some fresh gauze bandages.
Quietly, calmly, she went about dressing his arm expertly, making soothing little sounds as she cleaned up the wound with Betadine and steri-strips. She seemed a different person as she worked on his arm; the cold wastelands of her soul seemed revisited, her eyes seemed to fill with purpose and conviction, and Alan Burnett felt himself beyond all reason falling for the woman who was suddenly nursing him. At least, he thought as his head swirled on the verge of darkness, that's what love had felt like once, a long time ago. Selfless compassion and sudden desire filled the air around him with hammer pulse sensations and suddenly it felt like the air inside the room was full of beating wings. He watched her hands and her eyes as they worked, and he felt himself slipping into a dream.
Nothing was real anymore. Angels and demons flew in the air beside him, calling to him. The little room was flooded with bursts of light and dark . . .
When she was done she looked up at him, and she saw his face, his eyes, and she quickly looked away, almost - it seemed to Burnett - as if she was embarrassed by what she had done. It was out of character, almost as if she had broken an oath . . .
"Thank you," Alan Burnett said. "I mean it, thanks for doing that, ya know?"
The woman looked back it him, her eyes found his easily, and she seemed to recognize in his look something she hadn't seen in a man's eyes in years. She took his wrist in her hand and gave it a quick little squeeze. "You betcha," she said.
"Ah, listen, just a minute more and I'll be out of here. Can I get your name?"