A short story that introduces readers to California Highway Patrol Officer Wesley Mann and his canine partner Rambo, both of whom reside on the cusp of a major life transformation…
by: Frederick Foote
Wesley Mann, California Highway Patrol Officer, and his canine partner, Rambo, cruise the desert back roads and interstate in Arroyo County. Wesley finds peace and comfort driving during the midnight shift with the moon riding shotgun.
Wesley also provides backup support to the sheriff and the police departments in the small towns of Arroyo City and Bendall.
During the first hour of his shift, the officer employs all 318 horses in his Ford Interceptor to catch and pull over a convertible Porsche 911 with the top down, speeding in excess of 100 miles per hour down Interstate 5.
The driver is a brown-skinned Black woman in her early thirties. Her face and figure take his breath away. His adrenaline, high from the chase, takes another huge jump. Wordless, she hands him her license and registration. There’s no fear or nervousness in her at all. He’s the one trying to hide his sudden fit of nerves. The speeder looks at him with a soulful gaze. She finds him to be a person of interest.
Wesley retreats to his patrol car and pretends to call in the driver’s information. He has a wife of three years and a two-year-old son, the sun and moon of his life. He would never jeopardize what he has for a one-shot, backseat romance. But sweat is pouring off him like a waterfall, and his heart will not stop racing. He wipes his face and steadies himself as he steps out of his cruiser.
He returns her documents and wants to say, “Slow it down,” but he’s afraid that his voice will display his nervousness or betray him with a comment or question he would never normally make or ask. She looks at him, holds him in her grasp with that gaze for an eternity. She finally accepts the documents, sighs, and looks away. In seconds, she has the Porsche back up to 80 and accelerating.
Wesley doesn’t give chase or call it in. Instead, he says a prayer of thanksgiving for his narrow escape.
He wonders if his attraction is a racial thing. He has never been with a Black woman. Or maybe it was the full moon, the perfect night, her extraordinary legs in those shorts, or—
His radio transmission cuts off his obsessive thoughts, calls him back to work, and calms his mind.
One hour before the end of his shift, the Arroyo City PD calls for backup. He responds and is directed to Eighth and Palm Streets to investigate suspicious Mexican gang activity.
Slowly rolling down Palm Street, he uses his spotlight to search the alleys. He finds a thin, tattooed Mexican male wearing baggy denim shorts low on his hips, a soiled white wife-beater, and auto tire sandals. His exposed body is covered in tattoos from the base of his throat to his toes. He is standing in Mule Alley, looking down, searching the ground. The thin Mexican looks up when the spotlight hits him, shakes his head in annoyance, and returns to his search.
For a second, a lightning bolt of pure terror strikes Wesley. The veteran officer calls in his location and a description of his suspect. He’s advised not to approach the suspicious person and to wait for backup. Wesley uses his car’s loudspeaker to address the searcher. “I need you on your knees with your hands behind your head. I need you to do this right now.”
The Mexican gives the officer the finger and continues to search.
“I will not ask you again. Get on your knees and put your hands behind your head, now.”
The tattooed man responds without even looking up. “Fuck off, pig.”
Wesley’s sweat is blinding him. He wipes his face.
“I have a police dog. I will release him on you immediately if you do not comply, now!”
The Mexican finally looks up in Wesley’s direction, “Get the fuck away!”
Wesley blinks, wipes the sweat from his face, and steps out of the car with his hand on his revolver.
“Last chance to comply.”
There’s no response from the Mexican.
Wesley shutters at the thought of releasing the over-the-top vicious dog on the man. Rambo enjoys his attack work far too much and is difficult to stop once he gets started. Wesley takes a deep breath and opens the rear seat door. “Attacke!”
Rambo covers the 30 feet between him and the Mexican bullet-fast and is leaping when the tattooed man spreads his arms wide and screams like an ancient beast from hell.
Rambo drops to the ground like a stone, whimpers, and leaves a trail of shit as he races back into the car.
The Mexican strides toward Wesley. At that moment, Wesley realizes the worst thing he can do is pull his gun on this intimidator.
The suspect passes the officer without a glance.
When backup arrives minutes later, Wesley explains that the suspect got away. He doesn’t explain how the suspect evaded capture.
That was Wesley Mann’s last week as a law enforcement officer.
Wesley now has a struggling Insurance business in Arroyo City.