Elster's World

Wednesday, August 31, 2005

The Road Less Travlled Part III


State trooper Ted Frick approached the wreckage like a hunter advances on a trapped, wounded puma. It wasn't like he was worried about Keller's ghost climbing out of the crushed front seat. Rather, years of experience with highway wrecks had given him a healthy fear of leaking gas tanks and sudden explosions. He would never forget seeing the burned out body of Big Mike Banner, who had lost control of his roadster on a rainy June night and crashed into a retaining wall on the side of the Alexander Freeway. The fuel tank had exploded and lit the night up like an endless streak of lightning against a pitch black sky. Banner had burned alive in the front seat of his car. The officers and paramedics who tried to pull him out said to the man they had never seen anything like it. "He looked like overdone toast," was how fellow officer Cory Patterson had described it. Frick had nodded at the time. There had been nothing else to say.

Frick had no intention of joining the burn unit for piece of garbage like Keller. He walked a slow circle around the car until he was sure that there were no fires or visible gas leaks and then approaced the car. The driver side door was slightly ajar, probably opened by the van driver. Frick came close to the window and tried to peer in but the combination of the dusky light and gore on the window made it impossible. So he took a deep breath and flung open the door.

After the wave of stench rolled past him, he leaned in. The driver was right. The medical examiner would be taking Keller out of the car with a pair of pliers. Keller wouldn't be getting an open casket funeral. Not that there would be too many people mourning the loss of a dirtbag like Horatio. Except the dealers who sold him heroin of course.

Frick heard sounds of sirens in the distance. Ambulance and other units. Nothing got the local cops to a scene faster than the promise of fresh blood. They would have some great stories to tell their poker buddies tonight.

He looked at the blown apart body again. A wave of nausea rolled over Frick. He walked five steps from the car and let go of the pastrami and rye he's had for lunch. Jesus, he thought to himself. The local guys are gonna love that. But screw them. Keller looked like he'd taken a run through a meat grinder.

Frick got himself together as the first cops were getting out of their units, ambulance right behind. He wiped persperation from his forehead. Well, there was going to be a mountain of paper for this one. But as the vice cops would say, there was one less junkie on the streets tonight. Of course, there would be ten more ready to jump into the breach. He shrugged. That wasn't his problem. Maybe the van driver had it right. Kill all the druggies and let the Man sort it out. In the meantime, Frick was looking forward to a hot shower and a good baseball game. he'd seen enough death, at least for one night.

The End.


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