By Ray Adam Latiolais
"This one, Officer Ben! It's just like the Charlie Brown tree! This one!"
Tucker was bouncing around so much that Hollee was worried he might break toilet training.
"Hang on, partner. Let's see what the boss says. Boss?"
Hollee smiled and nodded. Ben was the state trooper who showed up at her door in June to let her know that Marsh, Tucker's dad, was dead. Hollee hadn't seen, or gotten any kind of support from Marsh since her pregnancy had advanced far enough to keep her from stripping...well, she could have kept stripping, but that crowd was too weird for her. Tucker was Marsh's only known kin, so Hollee got the visit. Marsh was just a name on Tucker's birth certificate. The boy had been more interested in Ben's hat and gun than his father’s death.
She ran into Ben at the mall a couple of weeks later. She could tell he was looking for a polite way to ask her, the grieving baby mama, out and had cut to the chase and asked him instead. They'd been together since. She was bartending for a catering company now and Ben was okay with her being a former stripper. It did spice things up in the bedroom.
Ben had picked up the tree and Tucker was dragging him to the checkout. Hollee followed smiling at Her Boys.
As the tree was being loaded into Ben’s truck she toed herself up and whispered into his ear.
"That is one ugly-ass tree."
The job fell apart as soon as they came through the door. The bank was full of state troopers. Shit got real, real fast.
Stark and Blue went down right away. Pops Coe took a shot in the leg but kept firing from the floor. Crazy-ass Rat Benedict was laughing and burning through clips. Clark, Holt, and Marsh started backing for the door. Clark was hit and Holt went to her aid. Marsh abandoned the couple and ran for the car.
He dived into the getaway. Shaw was already moving. They were out of sight before the troopers got out of the bank. Shaw drove to the switch point without pursuit. At the switch point Marsh shot the driver in the head and dug the keys out of a coverall pocket.
Shaw was just too fucking chatty.
He mounted the commercial van (Executive Service - On Time, On the Money!) and started moving just under the posted speed limit. He turned on the radio and the handheld police scanner on the console. The scanner was talking Cop, which he understood enough to know that the law was looking for two men in the getaway car. Marsh got on the interstate and headed north.
He was just out of the city when the story made the news. The bank was failing and the troopers were escorting the team of auditors. One of the auditors had died and one was critical. Three troopers died. That was bad news. Like most gangs, cops really hated it when their homies were killed. Marsh checked his speed. Stealth was more important right now.
The report went on to say that the police were searching for a man in a commercial vehicle, a truck, or perhaps a van. Marsh started looking for an exit. A helicopter overflew him and then circled back and buzzed the van. Minutes later a flock of state cruisers appeared in the rearview. Marsh stood on the gas, but the Crown Vics ate the distance and were on the van in no time.
Marsh spotted the roadblock and decided that he really didn’t need an off-ramp. The van veered off the interstate and through a fence. When the it finally came to a halt, he grabbed his gun and bailed.
He was crashing through forest of young trees...no, a tree farm... as the law’s bullhorns demanding his surrender. Marsh did not comply. Several rounds hit him at once. The troopers were angry about the deaths of their brother officers and had their best shooters on the pursuit.
Marsh slammed into the ground. Unable to even turn his head, Marsh’s last sight was a small, runt of a tree. He managed one last whisper.
"That is one ugly-ass tree."
Ray Adam Latiolais is an expatriate Cajun living in Texas and is quite put out that he contains no user serviceable parts.