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“What you got for me?” I asked my contact. “Oh, and by the way, I saw your man on the bus.” I smiled and waited for her reaction. I should’ve known better though; these people never had any sort of reaction. Short of shooting one of them in the head I don’t think I would’ve ever even seen them blink.

She produced a long sheet of paper with names and addresses. “These two here at the top of the men you killed. Unfortunately, not everyone stuck around to answer questions and give statements to the local LEO’ s.”she placed an X next to the pictures of the men that I killed. “The ones that did stick around, the LEO’s got names and addresses and, you are welcome, I looked them all up for you and got photo IDs to go along with the names.” her face remained emotionally neutral as she held the paper out to me.

“Good. Good” I scanned down the list and found the face I was looking for and circled his face “do we know anything about this cat?” The picture on his driver’s license didn’t look that much different from the man I’d seen but still something about him had me ill at ease.

She took the paper back from me and typed in the name into her computer. “Let’s see, government employee, went to a state school for four years, received a ticket this morning” she scanned the information looking for relevant details “No. Nothing really. Why, what’s up?”

“I don’t know. Something about him just seems off.” I took the paper from her once more and stared at the image. “You think they’ll care if I go and pay him a visit?”

She typed a bit more into her computer and stared at the results. “As long as you don’t do anything to him it should be fine.” She made eye contact with me for a brief second “do you think you can do that?”

“No promises.” I said as I folded up the paper and stuffed it in my pocket.

– – – –

When I arrived the neighborhood was mostly dark. There were lights coming from a few houses, but they didn’t have the look of electricity that were also used to seeing. I asked for a car and was given an unmarked Chevrolet Impala, which practically screamed police.I pulled up to a house a few doors down from my target  trying to look inconspicuous and doing a piss-poor job of it.

I had been parked for about 10 seconds before I saw the first face appear at a window observing the new arrival in his lovely nondescript vehicle. I was going to have to talk to these people about camouflage in an urban environment. I realize that working for the government there were only so many options available but, come on, they may as well have given me a black SUV and a dark suit to go with it.

There was nothing happening in my target house. I exited the vehicle closing the door softly and crossed the street to walk by the house. Under normal circumstances with the lights on people probably wouldn’t have given a second thought to seeing an unknown individual walk by; now though, I felt as though I were being videotaped with every step I took.

I was cursing my luck that the lights were out, but there was nothing to be done for it now. I walked by the house and looked directly into the window, and was greeted only by darkness and my own reflection. I had no intention of returning to the car so I simply kept on walking thinking to myself fuck them for sending me out in such an obvious car. I realized this would look even more suspicious to the people and watch me exit the car and walk down the street. I didn’t care.

I was going to hoof it back across the river and try to make it to my apartment before dawn. I made it to the end of the block and as I tried to cross the street was cut off by a police car. I hadn’t brought any weapons with me as I was trying to do as requested and not touch my target and more to the point I didn’t have my ID on me either. I knew what was coming.

The officer that stepped out of the car looked almost like a caricature of a policeman with a thick mustache and eyes that were used to being hidden behind the protection of reflective sunglasses. As he got out he even pulled out his baton and gave it a twirl.

“Hey partner,” he began full of swagger and knowing that he had the situation well in hand. “What brings you out on a night like this?”  he said not realizing he was already a dead man.

“Just taking a walk, officer.” I tried to appear as normal as possible and not at all threatening, but that just didn’t really work for me.

The officer nodded his head and smiled “In this weather? Well, to each their own I suppose. Me, if I weren’t working I think I’d be home having a beer right about now.” he said trying to appear congenial.

It’s not that I had anything against the police but I couldn’t afford to be arrested. And I refuse to be held in a tank with common criminals. More to the point my employers wouldn’t appreciate my absence. Given the job that I had been hired for it wasn’t exactly as if I could call them for help. And I surely couldn’t explain to the officer that I was working for the government, because in fact the people that paid me did so from an account labeled  infrastructure repair.

“You have any ID on you partner?” He asked his good nature melting away into the humid night air, all business now.

“Nope. Like I said I just thought I’d take a walk. I live close by and my power’s out too.” I smiled as he shone his flashlight in my face.

“Well, you see the problem is we got people on the street that reported a prowler. Said they saw a guy looks like you, get out of a car and walk away.” He smiled again  “See how that might look suspicious to some people?”

“Yes sir. I can see how that would look suspicious. Like I said though – –”

“Out for a walk” he nodded turning his head slightly to speak into the microphone on his shoulder. He spoke a gibberish phrase into the microphone and kept his head tilted waiting for a response. The response came and the officer excused himself for a moment and got back into his car admonishing me to wait right there.

I stood and watched as he typed something on his computer. In a matter of seconds a sketch appeared that could have been me, but could’ve been 100,000 other people as well. Unfortunately for the police officer I knew the sketch was me.

I heard him call something into his microphone and shortly after he was done he flipped on the rooftop lights of his patrol car. I took a casual look around and noticed the people had begun to gather on their lawns to watch what was happening. Now that the lights had come on on the patrol car, more faces began appearing in windows and even more people began turning out to watch the show.

I couldn’t see an easy way out of this. I took a deep breath and exhaled. This time I thought of a rooftop in Al Anbar province. I remembered waiting on that roof for what seemed like years for my target to appear. The stench coming up from the streets below was so thick you could choke on it–and the flies. Flies were everywhere; you’d be covered with them as soon as you stopped moving. I remembered how people suddenly disappeared from the streets and the realization that my hide had been exposed. That time I had to run. This time would be different.

The officer exited the patrol car, this time with his gun drawn. He began to bark orders at me; the friendly policeman façade now entirely gone.I raised my hands above my head in an effort to look like I was complying with his orders. Somewhere in the distance I could hear sirens approaching. I hoped to do this one-on-one, but that was beginning to look unlikely.

It took a second longer but the officer also heard the sirens. With his gun still extended toward me his head turned just slightly to the left to see the direction from which the other vehicles came. It wasn’t much of an opening but I took it.

I clamped my hand over the slide of the 9 mm semi-auto pistol he was carrying, stepping into him and delivering a blow to his nose with my head. He didn’t release the gun, but instead went for something on his belt – – all the while yelling for backup into his radio – – and brought up a canister of pepper spray. I caught his wrist with my free hand and turned the canister toward him. I was fighting now stuck between two options of being shot or being pepper sprayed, neither of which sounded appealing to me.

Our legs were so entangled that neither one of us could go for the easy shot to the nuts without risking pulling the other down on top of him. The officer was strong and even though I was holding him in a deadlock physically I didn’t think I could do it for much longer. I ran through the options in my head. I didn’t like what I came up with but it seemed to be the only thing that would work so I leaned forward and bit his nose off.

I spat the piece of cartilage out on the ground, but even this didn’t have the effect I’d hoped. Instead of releasing the grip on his weapon the officer now became enraged and pushed me backwards; his strength growing with the rage and pain. I risked a look to the left and saw the police cars moving toward us at a high rate of speed.

That wasn’t my only problem. Many people from the neighborhood, were now questioning whether or not they should rush to the officers aid. “Fuck this.” I said and gathered all my strength for one push to shove the officer backward into his car. That was a winner. The officer’s skull collided with the edge of his patrol car and for a brief second I felt his strength wane. It was good enough for me.

The officer let go of the pepper spray to reach up and grab for my neck. I stepped back bringing his gun hand with me and over the door frame of the patrol car; it only took a slight pressure to snap the elbow. I felt his grip on the gun loosen just enough that I could pry it away from him.

With the gun in hand I dispatched the mustachioed policeman and jumped into the still running police car. His comrades had just arrived in time to see me kill their colleague. They leapt forth out of their cars, guns drawn and they too began barking orders at me. A step on the accelerator and the car jumped forward as I began moving back down the street the way I had come. I saw him again, my friend from the bus. I didn’t have time for any witty lines, so I gave him my best winning smile and pointed my finger-gun at him giving him a wink as my thumb-hammer came down.

The patrol car roared as I accelerated away from the scene. Unfortunately for me I wasn’t a stunt driver, so my best bet was simply to make it to the Potomac River. I swung the car in that direction making contact with several other vehicles as I came around the corner, the rear of the car fishtailing wildly. I got the cruiser headed true once more and literally mashed the pedal into the floor.

In my head I summoned up a map of the area choosing a spot I thought I could use to lose my pursuers. I had a good lead on the cars behind me already, but I expected they’d be calling in air support any moment now, if they hadn’t already.

I made a turn onto the George Washington Memorial Parkway dodging through a few vehicles thankful there wasn’t much traffic here. I consulted the map in my head once more and hoped I was right about my position. The police cars following me were no more than 500 meters behind me meaning this was going to be close anyway it got cut.

I saw the sign I was looking for just ahead: Francis Scott Key Bridge. There was a bend in the road approaching and I marked my spot. Easing off the accelerator just a bit, I turned the wheel and let the car bounce across the median into oncoming traffic and aimed for a spot just before the small retaining wall on the other side of the road.

The short jolt down the embankment past the retaining wall caused the patrol cars airbag to deploy pushing me back in my seat as the car came to a rest. Fighting to get the partially deflated airbag out of my way, I threw open the door and bolted the remaining distance for the cool waters of the Potomac.

I swam for the bottom hoping that as the police arrived they wouldn’t be able to spot me in the water. At only a few feet down I was able to pull myself along slowly and smoothly. With only a few seconds of air left in my lungs I pulled myself as far as I could before turning over and allowing my body to float to the surface.

I had managed to pull myself further along than I’d hoped; the Key Bridge was now less than 100 feet away. I risked raising my head slightly out of the water and could see police cars with lights ablaze parked atop the embankment shinning flashlights all around the car and into the water near where I had been.

With my ears above water I could now hear the distant sounds of a helicopter approaching the scene. I lay my head back in the water for a moment allowing the gentle current to tug me along. Once under the Key Bridge I rolled over and began to swim hard for Roosevelt Island and freedom.

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