The Grey Man, update to the tease…

After I asked for input last week, I got an email yesterday asking curiously what changes I’d made.

So, you get to see the sausage getting made, at least from the way ‘I’ write. Here is the revision to Back on Patrol that I made based on various comments I’ve received. Having said that, this still hasn’t been through the alpha and beta readers, and an editor yet, but I hope this gives y’all and idea of what I do with the inputs…

Back on Patrol

Jesse pulled into the sheriff’s department parking lot a little after seven, got her bag out of the car, and looped her duty belt over her shoulder.  Walking slowly to the back door, she sighed and unconsciously straightened her shoulders and tugged at her shirt and pants. Okay, ordering new pants is high on the list. I’m not as skinny as I used to be. I’ve done this before. It’s not like this is anything new. Back in the saddle. I can ride this horse.

Jesse walked in and was surprised to see both the sheriff and Johnny Hart standing there, “Good morning Sheriff, Johnny. What’s up?”

Sheriff Rodriquez said, “Morning Jesse, since you haven’t been out in a while, I figured it would be a good idea to give you a little refresher. Ortiz called in sick, and Johnny came in to pick up a shift. Since Johnny is our FTO[1] I can kill two birds with one stone so to speak.”

Deputy Hart said, “Let’s not use the word kill there Sheriff!” Turning to Jesse he said, “It’ll give you a chance to get back in the swing of things, without having to jump in the deep end to start with. Besides, more eyes mean more things to find. Not that I expect us to find anything.”

Jesse laughed, “Okay, no killing and no jumping in the deep end with all this equipment on. I’m good with that. I’m sure we’ll find something or other!”

The sheriff continued, “Y’all have sector two, she’s all yours Johnny. And with that, I’m outta here. Don’t call me unless you have to.” With a wave, he was out the back door, leaving Jesse and Hart standing looking at each other.

“What do you want me to do?” Jesse asked.

Hart replied, “Do the standard checks, and you’re driving. We’ve got two-one-four assigned to us.”

Jesse geared up, checked the boards for any wants, warrants, stolen vehicles and noted the license numbers, and picked a stack of BOLOs out of the box. Sticking her head in dispatch, she got a quick radio check on her handheld radio, and then walked out to the car. Jesse did the walk around, checked the lights and siren were operating correctly, and checked that the shotgun was cruiser ready. Digging in the driver’s side map pocket, she found the tuning fork, thumped it, and held it in front of the radar antenna. Noting the speed, she logged the calibration in the duty log and dropped it back in the map pocket. They loaded their duty bags in the trunk and Jesse said, “Okay let’s do this.”

Hart nodded, “You’re in charge. I’m just along for the ride and the OT today Jesse!”

Jesse rolled her eyes, “Whatever,” she said with a laugh. “Dispatch, two-fourteen in service, sector two.”

Dispatch replied, “Ten-four, two-fourteen.”


Four hours into the shift, Jesse and Hart had exhausted the catch up conversation, and Hart was slouched down in the passenger’s seat, “How about lunch? There’s a decent burger joint that opened not too long ago in Sheffield.”

Jesse replied, “Sounds good, I could go for a burger!” She turned onto I-10 and headed for Sheffield, until the radio went off on county-wide.

“All units, sectors two, three, four; domestic at westbound rest area mile three-oh-eight. Blue and white RV, back right corner of the parking area. Called in by observer, stating screaming and banging coming from RV.”

Jesse looked over at Hart, who shrugged, picking up the mic she said, “Dispatch, two-fourteen, we’re flipping at mile three-ten. ETA two minutes. Backup?”

Jesse heard cars two-oh-two and two-oh-seven say they were coming but ten and twenty minutes away. As they got close to the rest area, Jesse killed the overheads and eased slowly into the rest area, seeing only one blue RV. It was a big one, and she pulled in directly behind it, blocking it in. As they exited the car, they could hear crying, and the sounds of objects being thrown.

Hart pointed to the right side, and motioned Jesse to the left, Jesse cleared the left side and front of the RV, but all the shades were pulled.  As she came around the RV, she saw Hart, Taser drawn, standing to one side of the door. She sidled down the RV, took position on the back side of the door and nodded to Hart.

Banging on the door, Hart yelled, “Sheriff’s department. Open the door.” They heard one more crash and as Hart started to yell again, the door was opened by a large man in shorts, tennis shoes and nothing else, with disheveled hair and a cut over his eye.

Hart held the door saying, “Sir, would you step out here, please? We have a report of some loud noises and we just heard something breaking as we walked up.”

The man growled, “Ain’t none of your damn business!” and started pulling the door closed.

Hart didn’t let the door go and said mildly, “Sir, we really need you to step out here and talk with us.”

Jesse stepped around the door, backing Hart up, “Sir, please step down here!”

The man started trying to wrestle the door out of Hart’s hand, and Jesse saw a woman slumped on the floor behind the man. Holstering her Taser, she grabbed the door and yanked it, unbalancing the man and breaking his hold on the door, “Female down behind him, Johnny.”

Hart grabbed the man’s hand in a pain compliance grip and pulled him down out of the RV, as Jesse charged in. Jesse found a middle aged female on hands and knees, blood dripping from her face. Looking around, she saw broken crockery, dishes and multiple things strewn about. She grabbed what appeared to be a clean towel off the counter top and dropped to a knee, “Ma’am, can you hear me? I’m with the sheriff’s department. Is there anyone else in here? Can you tell me what…”

The woman reared up, “Ain’t but just th’ two us. That son of a bitch hit me ‘cause I let him sleep and didn’t have his breakfast hot when he woke up.” Snatching the towel from Jesse, she pressed it over her eye, and glared balefully around, mumbling, “Dammit, I just bought new dishes in New Mexico.”

Jesse asked, “Ma’am, do you have some identification? Is he your husband?”

The woman started trying to get up, and Jesse helped her to the couch. The woman reached in a purse sitting on the corner. Jesse watched her closely, and was relieved when she came out with a small wallet, handing over a license.

“Mrs. Wharton, is that your husband?” Jesse asked as she quickly wrote the information in her wheel book.

“T’aint married.” Wharton replied.

Jesse heard a yell, “You ain’t arresting me!” And a scuffle start outside. As she turned to the door, she took her attention off the woman sitting on the couch. Stepping to the door, she saw Hart had the situation under control and as she turned back, she sensed something coming at her. Ducking she heard the woman squall, “You ain’t arresting him!” as she tried a backhanded swing at Jesse with a frying pan half full of stale bacon grease.

Jesse jumped out of the way of the pan, yelling, “Stop it! If you don’t stop, I’ll have to arrest you!”

Wharton simply swung the pan again, and Jesse managed to duck out of the way but got splashed with more bacon grease, then tripped Wharton to the floor. Jesse hadn’t been in a fight since going through training and had forgotten how violent women could be. She finally got one arm pinned, got a cuff on one hand, and Wharton on her stomach, riding her like a bucking bronc.

“Give me your other hand,” Jesse gritted as she fought to maintain her position, trying to pinion the other now greasy arm and get a pain compliance hold. The woman continued to flail her free arm, and grunt unintelligibly as Jesse tried time after time to get a grip. Suddenly a boot stepped none too gently on Wharton’s arm, and Jesse was finally able to get a pain compliance grip on the fingers, bringing the slippery hand behind her back and getting the other cuff on.

Once she’d done that, she blew her hair out of her face and looked up to see Trooper Wilson, “Thanks Michelle!” This one kinda went rodeo on me.”

Trooper Wilson chuckled, “Fun isn’t it? You okay?”

Jesse climbed wearily to her feet, “I think so.” Rotating her shoulder she continued, “Nothing feels like its broken, but she almost got me with a frying pan, of all things.”

Hart jumped into the RV, “Jesse? You okay?” As he reached down and hauled Wharton to her feet. “Have you searched the rest of the RV?”

Jesse grumbled, “I’m fine, and no! She went all rodeo on me. If you’ll Mirandize her, I’ll finish doing that now. I’m pretty sure this is going to be an impound and we’ll have to get a search warrant.”

Hart frog marched the woman out of the RV as Jesse and Michelle Wilson finished searching the RV. There weren’t any more people in it, but they did find a cat hiding on top of the cupboard in the back bedroom, drug paraphernalia, and on more searching, six gallon bags of white crystalline substance hidden under the mattress. Jesse looked at Trooper Wilson as she held up one bag to the light, “Have you got a test kit handy? I don’t think they meant for us to find these.”

Wilson nodded, “Yep, got a kit in the car, but I’m betting that’s Meth. It doesn’t look like Coke or Heroin, looks like crystal Meth to me.” As Wilson turned to leave, she said, “I’ll get my camera and I’m guessing we’ll have to do an inventory, then tear this thing apart to see if anything else is hidden in here as soon as we get a warrant.”

Hart came in, “What’d y’all find?”

Jesse held up one of the bags, pointing to the others and Hart whistled, “Damn, that’s a load.” Waving a stack of papers, he continued, “Looks like the RV is registered to one of those RV rental places in Fullerton, California, wherever that is.”

“That’s just south of Los Angeles,” Jesse said, “So, are they delivering or picking up, or both?”

Opening the NARK kit, Wilson took out the meth ampoule, “I think they were delivering based on all the bags being identical. Coke and weed normally run east to west, but lately Meth and Heroin run west to east. I’m betting this is crystal meth. We can test one here, if it’s positive, the others can be tested back at the station.”  Opening the bag, an odor of Geraniums welled up as Wilson scooped a sample into the test bag and crushed the end of the ampoule. A dark purple, almost black color showed as soon as she cracked the ampoule.

Hart chuckled, “Winner, winner, chicken dinner! That stuff must be pretty good to light up that quickly.” Looking at Jesse he sniffed, “Looks and smells like you’ve been in a fight with a greased pig.”

Jesse looked down ruefully, “Yeah, glad I’ve got another uniform in my car. And a greased pig was easier, trust me! She might be older and fatter, but that damn grease made it harder than hell to get a grip on her!”

They heard a voice, “Where are y’all?”

Jesse and Hart both recognized the sheriff’s voice and chorused, “Back here, Sheriff.”

Sheriff Rodriquez stopped in the door and peered at the bags on the bedding, “What you got Michelle? Good bust?”

Wilson replied, “Oh yeah, Sheriff. I’m betting ten, maybe twelve pounds of quality crystal meth!” Waving the test bag at him, “Look at the color, it lit up in about two seconds, almost black. This stuff is pure uncut, and probably all from the same source.”

Hart chimed in, “Looks like they rented the RV in Fullerton, California, just outside LA and they’ve had it for six days. Be interesting to know where they’ve been in the last six days. LA is, at best, a three day trip from there to here.”

The sheriff nodded, “Y’all done an administrative inventory yet? Called for a tow?” He glanced at Jesse and sniffed, “Bacon grease?”

Jesse sighed, “No, no, and greased pig. The woman took a swing at me with a skillet full of grease, thankfully it wasn’t hot grease. It kinda went downhill until Michelle stepped in, literally, and I could get her cuffed.”

“What kind of skillet? Cast iron, or one of those new enamel ones?”

Jesse thought, “Uh, enamel I think.”

The sheriff said, “So felony three instead of felony one. Did you bag it for evidence?”

Jesse shook her head, “No, sir. Not yet anyway. I’ll do that right now.”


A half hour later, Sheriff Rodriquez and Sergeant Greenwood from DPS shook hands and turned over the crime scene to DPS and Ranger Clay Boone, along with the completed administrative inventory of the RV. The sheriff walked back to where Jesse and Hart were leaning on the side of the car saying, “Okay, got that one off our plate. With John on vacation, I don’t have anybody to do the investigation, and frankly I don’t want to deal with another damn set of druggies in the tanks. Why don’t y’all head on back to the office and Jesse, you can go on home…”

Jesse bristled, “Jose, all I want to do is get a quick shower, change uniforms, and get back out here. There’s still two hours left on the shift!”

Holding up his hands in self-defense, the sheriff replied, “Okay, okay! I was just going to give…”

“I don’t need coddling, Sheriff! I need to get back in the saddle, and getting back out here is the way I want to do it,” Jesse replied. Turning to Hart she said, “You ready to clear and head back? I’d really like to get this bacon grease off.”

Hart shrugged, “You’re driving. Let’s do it. Do you mind if I put my window down?”

Jesse rolled her eyes, “Fine. Just get in the car.”


Jesse stood in the locker room shower, sluicing the shampoo out of her hair and looking down at her hands, which were shaking. Stop it already! You came through that fine. One minor screw up, but you recovered. You didn’t die, and you didn’t shoot anybody. You’re going through an adrenalin dump. You’ve been here before. Time to get back out there!

Quickly drying off, she slipped into her spare uniform, moved everything from the shirt and pants to the uniform she was wearing, tossed the other one in a trash bag, and thought, I’ve Got to wash this as soon as I get home, otherwise, it’s going in the trash. And order new pants!

She grabbed a cup of coffee from the break room, dropped the trash bag in her car, and popped the trunk on two-fourteen, ensuring nothing was missing or moved. After gathering Hart up, she pulled back onto I-10 and headed east. “Okay Johnny, can we do a rehash of the domestic and what went wrong?”

[1] Field Training Officer

So, minor changes, based on the responses, and I think it ‘tightened’ the chapter up considerably.


The Grey Man, update to the tease… — 8 Comments

  1. Definitely better!

    One little quibble is the line: She turned onto I-10 and headed for Sheffield, until the radio went off on county-wide.” Should the “until” be “when” instead?


  2. I see what you did there. Thanks for sharing the process.

    It occurred to me to wonder if the Sheriiff does asset forfeiture there.