I sat in the back of the ambulance and groaned as I struggled to remove my shirt for the EMT. Two dark circles the size of tennis balls overlapped each other on my chest. They were already turning purple.
“We’re going to need to get you to the hospital, now, Detective.” One of the EMTs said as he pushed his hand gently against the wound causing me to hiss at the pain. This, in turn, cause my lungs to hurt. “It’s pretty apparent you’ve sustained some major damage and there’s a definite possibility that someone your age would experience internal bleeding.”
Another car moved through the police line, it was Bishop. He got out and walked over to me.
“Burton, what on God’s green earth are you still doing here?” He demanded.
“I convinced these two gentlemen to hold off on my ride to the hospital until a cursory sweep was finished. I shot one man and Robert got the other, there might be someone in more desperate need of an ambulance just inside my house.” I smiled but it faltered as breathing had become a very stressful task.
“If we find someone we’ll call you guys back out. Right now I want this man taken to the hospital. He took two bullets center mass for Hell’s sake.” He said pointing at the bruises on my chest.
Both EMTs nodded and one of them looked over at me and shrugged. Sorry.
The engine started as a cop walked over to Bishop and began a hushed conversation. Bishop’s mouth dropped open and I thought I caught a very familiar; very unfortunate acronym: IAD.
“Wait a second. Internal Affairs? They called IAD for this?” I said as the doors closed and the siren drowned out any possible answer I might’ve gotten. I tried to lay back but my mind was working in overdrive. IAD didn’t handle all officer involved shootings, they were handled by a separate task force. I was missing a very important piece of the puzzle.
I asked to be taken to University of Utah Hospital, but I think they pretended they didn’t hear me and our ambulance pulled into Alta View just a short time later. U of U, after all, was a lot further out of the way.
I spent the next six hours in a bed being shuttled around the emergency room as they poked and prodded and took pictures of me with large, intimidating machines. My doctor finally concluded that the immediate threat of internal bleeding or life-threatening injury was low. However, he wanted me to hang around until all their tests were completed before releasing me. Maybe overnight for observation.
When they settled me into a bed for a time, I was told that I had a few visitors. The first one in was and Agent Derrick Jackal of IAD.
“It’s a good thing the first friendly face I see is you. Who needs comforting words when I can be grilled by someone who thinks I’m dirty.” I said as he sat next to me.
“Ah c’mon now, don’t be that way.” Jackal said with a grin. I found his name to be very accurate as the man looked like a predator. His jaw was broad and his lips we oversized like he could swallow you whole. His nose was thin and he had these beady brown eyes. “I’m sure we both know why I’m here, Detective.”
“Actually, I’m fairly certain I don’t have a godamned clue why you’re here. OIS handles shootings, not IAD.” I said
“You would know that.” He said leaning back, “I mean seeing as this isn’t your first rodeo.”
“If you’re mentioning the other shooting, I was cleared on that one. Even got an accommodation.”
“Oh I’m sure we’re all well aware of your other shooting, Officer Burton. Did you know that an officer being involved in more than one fatal shooting during his career here in Utah hasn’t happened in eighteen years? Eighteen years.” He said.
“So they found a body?” I said, “Which one died?”
He coughed. “Well there hasn’t been a body found, yet.”
“So the record holds. What is this really about?”
“-I WILL HAVE SOMEONE’S JOB!” A shout from somewhere off in the distance drew our attention.
“Uh oh.” Jackal smiled conspiratorially at me. “Busted.”
Bishop stormed into where I was lying and glared down at Jackal.
“I don’t know who the Christ let you in here without informing me, but this interview is over. You can question Burton again when he has proper representation and under my scrutiny, you got that?” Bishop demanded at Jackal.
“I apologize if I’ve offended you, Lieutenant. But we all have a job to do. I didn’t think protecting low life drug dealers would be high on your list of tasks.” Jackal said standing up.
Now I was really damned confused.
Bishop moved in and grabbed Jackal by the shirt collar in both hands. “Listen to me you little shit. I’m a very patient man, ask anybody, but if you come at my officer again making these bullshit claims with no evidence and without my knowledge; I will tear you down so fast you’ll be serving hot dogs from a damned cart for the rest of your miserable career. You got me?”
Jackal pushed himself away from Bishop and they stared each other down for a moment. Then he turned and walked out.
“I’m afraid to ask what’s going on,” I said carefully. “I think that’s the first time I’ve ever heard you say ‘shit’, Lieutenant.”
“Yeah well you’d better not have a clue about what’s going on here because that speech might’ve just interlocked our careers.”
“So let’s get me up to speed.”
“When they searched your apartment there was a duffle bag on your counter. Any idea what I’m talking about?”
“Not a clue.” I said with a frown.
“Well it was full of both crack cocaine and crystal meth.” He said, “We’re talking about the upper five figures here.”
My mouth hung open. “What the Hell?”
“My guess is that it was a plant. I think these guys wanted to make it look like you got killed in some drug deal gone bad.” He said.
“Oh wow, this isn’t good.” I managed
“Yes, especially because of what they found in your car.” He said.
“What?! The two guys got nowhere near my car.” I said, “I made sure of that.”
“You had a bump of crystal meth in your car in an evidence bag.” He said.
I thought back to Kathy Mullner’s place and nodded. “Yeah I confiscated that the other day with Thaton.”
“You didn’t process it and one of the techs says that he’ll be doing it. But his first impressions are that it was cooked by the same person that cooked all the stuff in the duffle bag. Might even be part of the same batch.”
My stomach clenched and I felt like I was going to vomit. “You’ll have to talk to Steven Hanner about it. That’s the name of the guy I got it from. H-A-N-N-E-R.”
“This isn’t my case, but I’ll let IAD know. We’re walking a very thin line here, George. Even Weston is distancing himself from you.”
I nodded. “You make that sound like I should be surprised he’s not loyal.”
“Anyway, I don’t have to suspend you, yet. But if they come at me with charges my hands will be tied. You know that, right?”
“Yes.” I said.
“We might be lucky, though. From everything I’ve heard, this screams plant. I’m guessing the two guys after you were waiting for the job to be done before staging the scene so you might be ok.”
“You had better get this investigation cleared.” Thaton piped up as she walked in. “I tried to get a hold of your Kevlar, but they needed it for evidence. I figured you should get it bronzed.”
I smiled. “It would’ve been nicer had I bronzed itbeforethose bastards shot at me.” I said as a shifted uncomfortably. The bruises throbbed dully under the pain killers and I dreaded the weeks of soreness that were surely in my future. “Did they have any leads on the shooters?”
“Highway patrol called in a car fire on Interstate 15 within thirty minutes of the shooting. The firemen located a pretty sophisticated incendiary device and two bodies. No one’s thinking it’s a coincidence. Of the two bodies, one was male, one female. The flames burnt up most forensics from what I hear, though. They say if that was your shooters, which they believe it was, we’re only looking for one guy now. His accomplice is likely the man in the passenger seat.”
Bishop looked down at his watch. “Now, since you’re not dead, Burton. I have somewhere I need to be.”
“You’re other job?” I said realizing it was Sunday.
“Making payments to the big eternal pension in the sky.” Thaton joined in as Bishop walked away.
“At least I’ve got a retirement plan.” He called back, and then he was gone.
I groaned as I lay back and rested my head on my pillow. “I think I’m just going to go ahead and pass out right here.” I said
“I’ll leave you to it.” Thaton said as I was fading. “Is there anything else I can do for you in the meantime?”
“Well it seems that I might be pretty behind on a lot of my reports…” I yawned.
Thaton laughed and started walking away. “Nice try, Burton. Your capers; your papers.”