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Copyright © 1993, 94, 99
A. Thomas Heald
All Rights Reserved.

1300 words


Just Another Routine Stop
Tom Heald


Officer Hasenpfeffer was on routine patrol in his brand-new "stealth" patrol car when he observed a red Mustang approaching at 75 to 80 MPH. The officer waited until the vehicle was beside him. Making eye contact with the youth, he signaled him to pull over. Eyes wide and mouth open, the youth read the black lettering on the side of the white patrol car. Mouthing something to the effect of "Oh, Shoot," the youth buried his foot and took off in a cloud of blue smoke. Officer Hasenpfeffer lit 'em up. He loved it. The rotating strobe lights, concealed in the four corners of the roof, really shook the bad-guys up. To the youth, it was as if the little old lady from Pasadena had just turned into Atilla the Hun.

The Mustang took the next exit ramp on two wheels and raced into town. Hasenpfeffer, not willing to risk a high-speed pursuit in town, backed off and asked the dispatcher to notify the local police. Keeping the Mustang in sight, he followed from a distance. When it turned right, he took the next right, running a parallel course. At the third intersection he spotted the Mustang. It had doubled back. Attempting a power-turn, Hasenpfeffer slammed on the brakes, threw the car into a skid and hit the gas. It worked! And then the turbo-charger cut in. Like a turkey caught in a tornado, the patrol car spun around three times right in the middle of the intersection.

To the youth, it looked like a buzz-saw from hell. Red strobe lights flashing, wheels belching blue smoke and a screech that sounded like a convention of tomcats at a dog show. He had two choices -- certain disaster or sudden death. Standing on the brakes, he crossed his fingers and pulled the steering wheel to the left. The Mustang's wheels screeched as it bounced high over the curb and skidded to a stop; belching steam and spitting little pieces of sod from its grill. The youth shot out of the car like a greased pig at the county fair.

"He abandoned his vehicle," Hasenpfeffer yelled into the microphone. "I'm pursuing on foot!" Hasenpfeffer vaulted over the fence, raced around the corner of the house and then slowed to a stop. Grinning broadly, he walked toward the youth, now standing in the corner of the yard with his back to the fence. In front of him stood the largest German Shepherd Hasenpfeffer had ever seen. At least he thought it was a German Shepherd. It looked like a cross between a German Shepherd and a Saber Tooth Tiger. The type of dog that ate Pit Bulls for lunch. Hasenpfeffer laughed, "Caught by a police dog," he said. "That's justice for you."

Now the dog was a reasonable beast. Even though he had just been rousted from his afternoon nap by this kid tearing through his yard -- the yard he was honor bound to defend with his life -- he hadn't hurt him. He had only cornered him for his master. But now, there was a second one. A bigger one. Walking right up to him like he owned the place. No self respecting dog could put up with this. The dog turned.

Hasenpfeffer froze. A low growl rose from the dog's throat as it bared its teeth, exposing what, to Hasenpfeffer, looked like six-inch fangs. When the growl reached the level of a 6.1 earthquake, Hasenpfeffer broke for the fence. The dog gave chase. Hasenpfeffer took the fence like a hurdler. It was a tie. The dog's teeth clamped onto him with a viselike grip. He fell astride the fence, right onto its top-rail. Pain, oh what pain. The dog, not willing to give up its trophy, shook his head, whipping the pants-leg back and forth. Hasenpfeffer slowly slipped over the fence and shuffled, bowlegged, back toward the front yard. Rounding the corner, he heard the screech of tires. Looking up, he saw his patrol car disappear around the corner. Damn, the kid stole his car!

Forgetting his pain, Hasenpfeffer ran after it. He Arrived at the corner just in time to see his patrol car skid to the right -- right up a tree. His beautiful car, only issued to him that week, hung there -- its wheels hugging that mighty oak -- its headlights staring at each other from the far side of the tree. Drawing his gun he ran to the car, tore open the door and leveled his gun at the youth's head. "Out of the car...," he ordered.

"It's not my fault," the youth shouted. "The damn car skidded. There must have been oil on the road, or something."

Then Hasenpfeffer heard it. The loping sound of something running. Something big. It was that damn dog. It had jumped the fence and now it was about to jump him. He sprang to the hood of the car and climbed onto the roof. The dog, clawing at the roof, tried to gnaw off another piece of Hasenpfeffer.

The youth sprang from the car and ran down the street. Hasenpfeffer, figuring he could kill two birds with one shot, yelled at the youth, "Halt or I'll shoot!" Then, leveling the gun at the dog's head, he fired. He missed! The well-aimed bullet landed in the dirt, two inches from the dog's paw. The dog's ears rang from the blast. His nose burned from the muzzle flash. With his tail tucked between his legs, the dog ran for his back yard, clearing the fence by a good six inches.

The youth hit the ground. Covering his head with his hands he yelled, "Don't shoot, Don't Shoot!" The local police arrived with a screech of tires. The TV News helicopter womp, womp womped overhead. The reporter stepped up and took another picture. "What's your name officer?" she asked. "What's going on here?"

"Just another routine stop, Ma'am." He smiled, climbing down from the roof of the car.


Hasenpfeffer knew he was in trouble when the captain showed up at roll call the next morning. "I am here this morning," began the captain, "to honor our most recent, self-appointed Public Affairs Officer. It's not often that one of our officers receives national press coverage. But Officer Hasenpfeffer has accomplished the impossible. He has proven to be one of the world's greatest communicators. Like Dr. Dolittle, he talks to the animals." The Captain held up an enlargement of the morning newspaper. It showed Hasenpfeffer, on top of his car, pointing his weapon at the dog's head. The caption read, "Halt or I'll shoot!" "I have had no less then five animal rights groups call me to explain the uniqueness of this accomplishment."

"Officer Hasenpfeffer," the captain continued, "has also shown outstanding community support. Not every officer would make his brand-new top-of-the-line patrol car available to a youth whose own car is disabled. And then, when the car is returned, to give a PR speech from the roof of that same vehicle." He produces a second photo. It shows Hasenpfeffer standing on the roof of his car, arms held out from his sides, palms forward. "Sermon from the mount," the caption read. "It's no wonder the press was mesmerized."

"In view of these accomplishments, we have searched high and low for an assignment worthy of Officer Hasenpfeffer's talents. For an assignment that will put him in close contact with the public. Where there can be a healthy exchange between them. Therefore, knowing you're all waiting with bated breath, it's my pleasure to announce that Officer Hasenpfeffer will personally conduct all of the Breathalyzer tests at next year's Gilroy Garlic Festival."

Editorial Note: The Gilroy Garlic Festival is a annual event held the last weekend of July in Gilroy, California, the "Garlic Capital of the World." Although 135,000 people attend each year, over the past 25 years there has never been a verified report of a vampire in attendance.

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