Spent Rounds

It was qualifying week at The Bay. That’s where officers, from the great NorthWest come to prove they are still proficient with their side arms. Desk bound Sergeants and Corporals, and lowly constables driving cruisers with butt-sprung seats arrive en masse at The Bay to burn a little cordite and release six months worth of frustration.
By noon they are half through the qualifying rounds. A dozen clips apiece have been pumped through their Glock semi-automatics. They’ve been stripped, cleaned, reloaded and holstered. . . officers as well as weapons.
Ties have been straightened, moustaches so thin and sharp they could take out an eye, have been trimmed and waxed. Pumped up on burnt cordite, testosterone levels – even in the female officers – is in the upper danger level. Their hunger is a ravenous beast demanding to be satiated. They pile into vans and head to the local café.
Our finest strut in levelling their steely glare upon the guilty locals loitering over their burgers, fries and coffee. Into the main dining room they swagger, swinging out chairs, with a well-polished, practiced toe. Another quick glance around for any suspicious perps is followed by a slow but deliberate settling into the chairs. Holsters are patted and adjusted for ready access, before taking up the menus.
“Steak sandwich, very rare,” orders Ticket Tom, his moustache twitching nervously, “I prefer my meat raw.”
Similar orders are issued all round. They are all trained observers so piercing, probing, unflinching surveillance continues to sweep the patrons of the restaurant, as appetites wait on the chef. The food arrives. Another sweep of the room is completed before knives and forks swing into action and the pride settles into devouring the wildebeest.
Now, the burnt druggie, Hapless Pye – who had tumbled out of the freight car at the rail siding across the road – wasn’t in tune with the local calendar, and in fact didn’t even know where The Bay was. He just knew he was dry, hungry and broke. He’d lost his last meagre stash of weed, jumping the freight a day and a half earlier, without hope of making another score before he hit The ‘Peg. All he wanted right now was something to eat, drink, and a grubstake to take him on down the track.
In a haze he slouched into the restaurant, focusing only on the cash register and the display of chocolate bars behind it. The waitress came swinging out of the kitchen with the last order. . . Ticket Tom’s extra rare steak sandwich. . . and right into Hap’s field of vision.
Without thinking, Hap, in his usual modus operandi, grabbed the steak knife off the platter with one hand and waving it threateningly, grabbed the steak sandwich with the other, and ripped a generous bite off it. The waitress was momentarily stunned into silence at Hap’s assault.
“Migawd, this meat’s still raw!” sputtered Hap, still trying to masticate the offending steak.
“Empty the cash register,” he ordered further threatening the waitress with the steak knife.
The scream of the waitress was pretty much synchronized with the plates crashing to the tile floor.
The next sound was 12 chairs, tumbling back, 12 Glocks clearing leather, and the snick of 12 safeties being released.
“Freeze, sucker!” 12 officers snapped in unison.
Hap’s eyes widened, finally taking in the full import of the situation he was facing.
We’ll never know if Hap deliberately hit the deck or if the waitress slipped on the fries she had just dropped, but the end result was she and Hap landed in a tangled heap on the floor in front of the counter and were joined on the floor in a split second by the other patrons, ranged along the window booths, in the line of fire.
The Glocks went into action emptying their clips in mere seconds. When the smoke cleared, and the last of the shell casings clattered to the floor, the only apparent casualties were out front – the two police vans, a Kenworth pulp truck, and of course the plate glass window.
After the first few rounds Hap’s synapses had begun firing in the full automatic survival mode and hesitating only to grab the remains of the steak sandwich, he scrambled initially unobserved out the front door.
“There he goes!” shouted Ticket Tom waving his pistol at a fleeing Hap who was now legging it across the lot towards the highway. Hap his long hair flowing straight back, was making ten-foot strides as his skinny frame fired by pure adrenalin focused only on the open door of the boxcar of the train now pulling out of the siding.
Inside the restaurant, twelve Glocks lined up on target.
Twelve triggers were squeezed.
Fortunately for Hap and the reaming intact plate glass window, twelve hammers dropped on empty chambers.
With a final tremendous leap, Hap disappeared into the bowels of the open boxcar.
The ensuing internal investigation of the discharge of side arms tied up all remaining officers in the NorthWest for the rest of the day, so Hap never was apprehended.
It is however, reported the incident scared him into sobriety and onto the path of righteousness. He was last seen supervising a soup kitchen and trying to save straying souls.
At the restaurant in The Bay all weapons must now be checked at the door and no more extra rare steak sandwiches.
PS: I remember a lot of things that should have happened. This tale is one of them. JE

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