I wrote this scene sketch this morning to play with my sentence construction. I hope you enjoy the read.
Narcotics Detective Jimmy Hallaren sat in an early model Ford sedan, in the New Mexico desert three miles outside of Santa Fe, his .40 caliber pistol, unholstered, on the passenger seat, his bearded, cracked hand resting beside it, his dark eyes fixed on a dark patch in the road, irregular, like spilt oil that the sun had failed to raise from the dusty highway, a stain set all the more vividly in Detective Hallaren’s memory, set by a sin that a thirty-five year career of loyal duty could not cleanse: his violent, impersonal ending of a young man’s life; all in the name of a paycheck.
Detective Hallaren held a half-burnt cigarette out his open window, the butt between his first two fingers, nails turning yellower in the noon sun. He took a drag of the cigarette, letting the smoke linger in his greying hair, absorbing the aroma; a fitting stench. The police radio gurgled in his ears:
“Yo’ Jimmy,” came a man’s voice over the radio, “you bringing it in soon old man?”
Detective Hallaren lifted the .40 caliber and set it aside, revealing a thin paper pamphlet titled, ‘What Now?’ The author’s name was obscured, but appeared to be of Indian origin.
“Jimmy?” Asked the voice. “Are you there sir? I didn’t mean it about you being old, sir. We were all actually hoping to catch you before you left us for good.” Three or four other eager voices crackling over the speakers echoed the patrol officer’s sentiment.
Detective Hallaren caressed the pistol with his forefinger, then picked up the radio receiver. “Yeah, yeah, I’m here in the boonies; I’ll be at the station in a few; tell the boys I’m just reminiscing about the good ole’ days.”
“Tell them what?” Asks the voice. “Ten-one, you’re transmission’s a bit choppy sir.”
Glancing South, towards Santa Fe, low on the horizon, where the air wavers in the heat, Detective Hallaren saw a flash of green light, but, looking again, he saw… “Nothing,” said Detective Hallaren, “nevermind; I’m out on the eighty-four North; tell them I’ll be in soon. Just do me a favor and don’t let my wife do anything—over the top—at the station; I’m tired.”
“I’ll try sir, but your kids are in town. See you in a few sir; congratulations.” The radio scratched to silence.
Detective Hallaren continued to stare where the flash had been, two or three miles away, where the highway gently sloped, a small dust-devil rising up in its place. Then, like it had been there all along, a crude, yellow van appeared, screeching along the highway at high speed, swerving over the horizon. It was a boxy van, a DIY chop-job for sure; a Chevy truck, it’s bed replaced with a wooden hut, the whole thing hand painted a bright yellow, with black tinted-windows, and a black sliding window cut into the side like an ice-cream truck.
The van swerved so wide that it kicked up dust from either margin of the highway. The rig rattled and coughed so violently as it came that Detective Hallaren was sure its spine would snap any second. The van sped closer and it emitted a red flash that made him blink. A second later, green smoke poured from the windows of the van, accompanied by electric sparks and high-pitched whistles; the whooping spectacle, now no more than a mile from where the detective waited.
“What are you thinking buddy?” said Detective Hallaren, picking up the radio receiver. “Dispatch,” he said, “this is Detective Hallaren, do we have any traffic officers near my ten-twenty?”
The woman’s voice came clear and sing-song over the radio, “Ten-four, detective, units are on their way, now why don’t you ten-nineteen and start on enjoying that retirement? Good afternoon detective.”
Detective Hallaren took a long inhale, hand trembling, then flicked the cigarette butt onto the asphalt and cupped his hand over his quivering lips.
The van was less than a thousand feet out and coming fast; Detective Hallaren knew highway patrol would arrive in the next thirty seconds, and the driver would be long gone by then. But he gave up chasing petty speeders six years ago when they gave him the detective badge. He gave up the heart-pounding stops, the overwhelming questions of safety every time he stepped out of his cruiser; the beat up undercover sedan was a reward hard won. Four hundred feet; orange smoke now too? No front license?
Detective Hallaren felt a rumble in his gut; an explosion boomed from the van, just as it careened past him, horn blaring, a small wrinkled man at the wheel, black ponytail trailing behind, flailing his arms at the interior assailants, lips stretching wide, teeth chomping in terror, glasses fogging white, the cabin full of colorful gasses, white sparks, scattering copper coins and long, red and blue plumage all along the eighty-four.
Detective Hallaren picked up the pamphlet and flipped through it’s pages without pausing, then sighed. “Highway patrol will never make it,” he said.
Detective Hallaren holstered his pistol, crossed his safety belt, punched off his radio, jammed the gear shift into drive, and tore out after the mysterious yellow van.