The shift was quiet since it began at 11 o’clock that evening. The rain had stopped and the early hours of the morning had taken on a chill.
It was just before two and the pair was nursing a thermos of coffee.
“Sam eight, Sam eight” the radio popped to life.
It was Theresa calling their unit. Dale reached over and picked up the microphone.
“This is Sam eight, go ahead,” answered.
He unclicked the button.
“Sam eight, I got a report of a 10-31 in the water fountain area. Some dude just rolled a patron from the Alibi Bar,” Theresa said. Then she added, “He might be 10-32.”
Rolling down my window and took a large swig of my coffee, then dumped the rest into the street. I knew that the bad guy had just hit someone and stole whatever he could.
It was the day after payday. The report of a gun made matters worse.
“Ten-four,” Dale calmly replied, “Our twenty is at the post office. ETA, less than three minutes.”
“How about I get out here, Dale?” I asked as Dale hung up the radio mic, “They’ll expect cars, but not on foot. Besides, he might be coming this way.”
Dale nodded his head up and down and I got out of the car. I turned on his radio and put the mic to his lips.
“Two Sam Eight to dispatch,” I said in a normal speaking tone.
“Dispatch, go Two Sam Eight” Theresa responded.
Looking to my right then said, “Two Sam Eight Tommy be in the area on foot.”
There was a brief pause, “Ten-four and ten-zero, Two Sam Eight.”
Theresa was telling me to be careful. They had known each other since grade school.
When we graduated, we walked together down the neatly arranged rows of fold up chairs in the new gym at Margaret Keating Elementary.
“Ten-four, dispatcher,” I came back.
Trotting up the long silent walkway past KPOD radio station, I could see the light of the control room as it reflected itself down to the sidewalk.
Jogging across B Street and into the water fountain area, I could see two city units ahead, Dale was standing with them. There was a dark figure lying on the ground.
I picked up the microphone. “I can see you One Sam Eight. Is that our victim?”
“Ten-four,” Dale responded, “You see anyone?”
“Negative,” Tommy replied.
About that moment a rhododendron bush to the left of me burst to life. Out of it popped a man.
He was short with brown tangled hair. I could see he had on a red plaid shirt.
The man turned and ran in the direction I had just come from.
“Dale! I got him. He’s running toward C Street!” I yelled, forgetting my radio.
I dashed after the man.
He ran fast as I tried to catch him. The pursuit crossed the feed store parking lot and turned up Highway 101.
In the distance, I could hear other officers attempting to join the foot race. After a quarter of a mile, the man started to slow down but that’s when I started to catch up to him.
The man turned left around a corner. We were nearing McNamara and Peeps Lumber Yard.
I could hear the chain link fence as the man climbed over it.
Within seconds I was at the same fence. I did not slow down.
Judged the distance from the sidewalk and across the grass to be less than 15 feet, I would jump over the fence on the run.
The first step was fine.
It was the second step that proved to be a problem as I slipped in the wet grass. I had flat-soled boots on and it was like ice-skating and I shot forward into the fence.
I was able to stop myself from falling but I had lost my momentum to jump the fence. Now I would have to climb it.
So, I pulled myself up onto the chain linking. It rattled and shook as I did so.
Leaning over the top of the fence at my waist I proceeded to swing my legs over. The upper half of my body was already over the top.
Suddenly I stopped. I could go no further.
My belt caught me. The webbing held fast against the metal points of the fence.
I was stuck.
Kicking and struggling, I could not go back or forward on the fence. Suddenly my radio dropped out of its carrying case and crashed to the ground in front of me, jus’ out of my reach.
“Damn,” I thought, as my mind raced ahead. “What if he’s out there and can see me?”
I instinctively reached back for my 38. It was missing also. It had fallen out when Tommy crashed into the fence.
Now, I was a sitting duck. my service belt had trapped me upside down on the chain link fence.
Worse yet, no one knew where I was except the robber I had been chasing. I continued to struggle, wiggled and pulled, but got nowhere with the fence.
Then I thought, “Maybe I can get my belt undone.”
Reaching up and I felt for the buckle. That too was a struggle.
It was held fast against the fence on the opposite side. I was hanging jus’ far enough over the fence that I couldn’t reach over it and get to the buckle.
Desperate, I needed to get free of the fence. That’s when I decided to suck in my stomach and try to squirm free of my uniform pants.
Within moments I was out of my breeches. But I was still hanging upside down because I couldn’t get my feet out of my boots and they were still hung up in the legs of my pants, but now I could reach my radio.
“Two Sam Eight to One Sam Eight,” I called out.
“Go ahead Two Sam Eight,” it was Dale, “Where are you?”
I felt my face turn flush red, and then replied, “I’m on the south west corner of the lumber yard.”
“Sam 10 to dispatch,” the radio said. “We got him down at first stop light on Northcrest.”
Sam 10 had caught the bad guy.
Theresa responded, “Ten-four Sam 10,” then she proceeded to clear the radio by calling to each Sheriff’s unit.
“Sam 8 is 10-13,” Dale responded.
A minute later he walked past me as I hung on the fence.
“Dale?” I asked.
“Yeah,” Dale said, “Where are you?”
Dale had turned around and walked past me again.
“To your left,” I nearly shouted.
Dale stopped and pulled out his flashlight. I could hardly see because of the big white beam of light that flashed in my eyes.
“Get me down, would you?!” I shouted in a near panic.
Dale started laughing as he walked towards me. He reached up and unlatched the buckle of my belt.
Flopping to the ground, I stood up and tucked my shirt back in my pants and snapped his radio back in its holder. Dale handed my revolver to me over the fence and I proceeded to walk through the lumberyard towards the front gate.
I could hear Dale laughing all the while.