Thursday, June 20, 2024

Crime Scene ...

Lieutenant Colonel Ramirez and Captain Jackson of the Maryland State Police rolled up onto a scene which seemed right out of World War II. Shattered bodies on either side of Interstate 68 and an Army Humvee parked off to the side of the road, it's front tires shredded by small arms fire.

Three soldiers were standing near the Humvee, a senior sergeant, Jackson couldn't make out his rank but from the guy's age and grizzled look he had to be senior, and two lower ranking men, weapons held at the ready.

The sergeant held up a hand to wave down the police vehicle.

"Pull up over there, Jeff." Ramirez said as he tapped Sergeant Jeff Hildesheim on the shoulder.

The two officers got out of the vehicle and walked over to the sergeant, Jackson could see his rank tab now, guy was a Sergeant First Class named, oddly enough, Jackson.

"Whaddaya got Sergeant Jackson?" he continued while holding out a hand, "Captain Leroy Jackson, Maryland State Police, out of Barracks C over in Cumberland."

"Cap'n." the sergeant said, nodding. "We came up through the pass, we were traveling pretty fast, Governor wants us on the border with DC yesterday. Some sumbitch opened up with a Javelin as we came up to the Welcome Center up there on the hill on the left. Funny thing though, it wasn't aimed at us."

Ramirez watched as his forensic team started to go over the area. He directed one of them and a trooper to go up the hill behind the Welcome Center. "That's where the Javelins were fired from, see if you can't recover anything, heck, even an empty launch tube might give us a clue as to where these people got this hardware."

SFC Jackson stepped over to Ramirez, "Sir, we saw the rocket launch, I was in the second vehicle but I think we all figured that we were screwed. When the first rocket hit short of us on the side of that hill," he pointed to the right, the brush was still smoldering, "I figured the gunner didn't know his business. Then the second rocket hit the other side of the road," again he pointed, this time to the left, there was smoke but Ramirez didn't see any flames. "then things got busy."

"Busy, Sarge? Seems like things were pretty busy already."

"Nah Sir, we started taking small arms fire from either side of the road, from under the bridge. Killed the gunner in the lead Humvee and shot the shit out of the front of the vehicle. Driver was hurt as was the squad leader in the front passenger seat, but he manned the Ma Deuce anyway and began returning fire."

"Ma Deuce?" Ramirez wasn't familiar with the term.

"The M2 .50 caliber machine gun, most of our Humvees have them, except for the two which carry the Mark 19 grenade launcher."

Ramirez nodded, just then Captain Jackson's radio squawked.


"You and the Colonel need to come see this, we found the command unit and two launcher tubes. Better yet, we found a dead guy farther up the hill. He has a notebook, crammed with information about these tangos."

"Well, I'll be damned." Ramirez said. "Let's get up there, Sergeant Jackson, are your guys going to hang around?"

"We're out of here as soon as the Shithook shows up. Ah, think that's her now." Jackson pointed off to the west.

"Shithook?" Ramirez asked with a puzzled look.

Captain Jackson filled him in, "CH-47 Chinook, so of course the grunts call it the 'Shithook.' Great big helicopter, they're probably going to haul that busted up Humvee out of here."

As they walked back to their vehicle, Ramirez stopped and turned back to SFC Jackson. "Sarge, where are the three men we heard you guys captured?"

"We took 'em out by helicopter about two hours ago."

"Where?" Ramirez had a very no-nonsense look on his face now.

"Camp Baker, out in ..."

"I know where Camp Baker is, Sergeant. Notify your commander that I want those prisoners transported to State Police Barracks C in Cumberland. Today."

"Well Sir, they attacked ..."

"Today. Or I'll have my troopers bring you and your commander in on charges of obstruction of justice."

"Sir, I think that this is Federal ..." then Jackson stopped and said, "I'll tell him, Sir."

Choe realized that his blood pressure was probably through the roof by now. He tried to calm himself down, he wondered why those people had tried to stop him. Why had that woman shot the guy who had pulled him over? Why did she want him to think she was Chapman? He reached for his cellphone, then thought better of it. At the moment he was alone, out of touch, and extremely vulnerable.

He decided to head north, then west. Out to Hagerstown, he had a cousin out that way, his mother's sister's son. Kid had a good head on his shoulders and would know to keep his mouth shut. He could hole up there and try to get word to Chapman or Johansen.

He was off the board now and things seemed to be accelerating. He needed to figure out what to do next. Good thing he'd put in his leave papers and gotten them approved that very morning. Everything was online these days, it had been easy and while not untraceable, the path from the library was cold by now.

Captain Leroy Jackson had seen the two dead militiamen with their Javelin equipment. Both had been shot in the back of the head at close range. Execution style? Why?

His men had followed a blood trail up the side of the hill. They'd found a dead man wearing an older Marine camouflage uniform. They'd photographed the body before searching it, they'd found a treasure trove of information.

The dead Marine looked peaceful, sitting there, his chin on his chest, eyes closed, if it wasn't for the smell, a passerby might think the man was asleep.

The forensics guy handed him an ID card and a notebook, the ID proclaimed the dead man to be a retired Gunnery Sergeant named Leroy Beardsley. The notebook was crammed with carefully written notes. Jackson leafed through it.

"Damn, this guy was over at the Eastern Shore Rod and Gun Club, he names names, places, what he thought the plan was, everything."

"Yes Sir, we think he shot the Javelin men, fired the rockets which destroyed two militia machine gun positions, and blew the ambush. Not sure why he had second thoughts, but it seems obvious he did. I'd bet that info is somewhere in this notebook," the tech guy said, nodding at the notebook in Jackson's hand.

"Get this back to Cumberland."

"Not headquarters?"

"Nope, I want to keep this local for now.

Ephraim Johansen woke up. He felt groggy as hell, the first thing he noticed was that he was chained to a hospital gurney. He tried to sit up, the dizziness made him lay right back down. He heard the rustle of cloth.

"Mr. Johansen, you need to move very carefully. You were in a very bad car wreck and we had to operate on you. You should be okay, but," the nurse glanced down at the bottom of Johansen's gurney, "you've got a lot of physical therapy ahead of you. I'll tell the doctor you're awake."

Johansen was confused at first, then he remembered being t-boned by a pickup truck flying out of a side road onto the highway. He vaguely remembered the cop who had come upon the wreck. But that was about it. Why was the nurse looking down there? He managed to move a bit, his left leg hurt like hell, probably busted all to ...

He nearly vomited when he saw that his left leg was gone, from mid-thigh down, emptiness. Johansen realized then and there, that his life, as he had known it, was over.

No one, to his knowledge, had come to check on him, sure he was groggy, but all he remembered was hospital scrubs and police uniforms. Maybe it was time to cut a deal, he'd wait and see what the cops knew, or suspected.

Beth Chapman was at her aunt's house in Bowie, Maryland. Her aunt had passed a couple of months ago, Chapman was the executor of her will and very few people knew about her aunt. She had come straight here after seeing Captain Choe ambushed on the street. She had been following him at a discrete distance when the unmarked cruiser had lit him up and pulled him over. She knew better than to stop.

She picked up her aunt's phone, something she'd been meaning to have disconnected, she listened. A dial tone!

She dialed Captain Choe's office, a recorded message informed her that the Captain was on leave, and wouldn't return for a month.

She thought that odd that he hadn't mentioned that to her.

She dialed Choe's personal cellphone, he answered with a sharp, "Yes."

"Cap'n, it's Beth, don't say anything, just listen. If you remember the rock of our alma mater, meet me there tomorrow at noon, if you can."

Choe spoke a single word, "Wilco."

She just hoped that he knew what she was talking about, Annapolis Rock was a nice vista in South Mountain State Park. It was up a trail, she intended for him to meet her at the trail head, where there was a parking lot. Choe was a pretty sharp guy, hopefully he'd figure it out.

She hung the phone up, she noticed that her hand was trembling. She hadn't been this pumped up since her bird had gone down in the desert.

She didn't like that feeling, not at all.


  1. Good writing, I can almost smell the smoke.

    Police trying to do the legal thing in a patiently illegal coup is dangerous. But makes awesome reading. Feds indeed, like the National Guard Lt thinks it's a monolithic FED, no clue yet how the power mad have started a 5 way coup.

    1. There are a lot of folks running around without much of a clue as to what is really going on. That lieutenant is one of them.

  2. Throw a rock into a pond and watch the ripples spread. You've got some good ripples going Sarge.......... :)

  3. Well written as ever Sarge. I am barely beginning to get the characters in order (and then, of course, something happens to them....).

    1. A cast of dozens! (I do get carried away creating characters, probably because I like multiple threads all interweaving and interacting. Not sure if that's a bug or a feature.)

    2. " I like multiple threads all interweaving and interacting. "

      Ah! Like bobbin lace!

  4. I think it's a feature. Makes me pay attention, like real life. Everything is obviously not what I thought it was. Again.

  5. I like the power play by Ramirez. Not sure where any of this is going. Too many wheels within wheels within wheels within wheels. You got yourself an 18 wheeler going. Great job!

  6. Okay, I see some of he pieces fitting together. Eagerly awaiting the Muse's next ration of tense drama.

    Today's image is looking directly at the back of the merge sign in yesterday's image.

    1. I'm just trying to make sure I don't try to cram any square pegs into round holes.

  7. Wake up in a hospital bed with a leg gone and a handcuff on... ya I guess you're screwed. But... Jason Bourne would find a way out!

  8. I wonder if someone will remind Captain Jackson under martial law he's just another civilian. I am enjoying the intrigue.

    1. Both the governors of Maryland and Virginia have rejected the government's institution of martial law. We shall see how that turns out.


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