I’m getting drowsy, so I dowse the lights and lie there, staring off into the slats of light cast against the walls. As I’m just about to doze off, I’m sure I see something move, just slightly, but it’s massive, a shadow from outside cast through the blinds. I bolt upright, sudden though silent, shaken, watching the wall where the shadow is cast. Nothing moves. It looks like a mountain went up in the alley behind Kirchner’s building, blotting out half the light in the room.

Afraid to take my eyes off the shadow, that I will lose track of its movements if I do, I strain to reach the shotgun and find that I can’t without tipping over and falling out of the bed. I can however reach the body armor and I pull it over my lap. Then I remember my handgun is on the sill directly behind me. Contorting my arm to reach it while keeping my eyes on the wall, I succeed only in juggling it off the air conditioner and sill before finally dropping it, really more hurling into the corner as hard as possible, all of this so loudly the shadow knows to move again, closer, that his target is just on the other side of these windows, and to twist what must be the cocking knob/safety on a MAC-10 to the firing position, and to just fucking unload.

I scramble with the vest out of the room, pulling a hamstring and yelping from the pain, glass flying everywhere, the room being ripped apart into tufts of chipped paint, drywall, and wood splinters, the plinking and shattering accented by the typewriter-ticking of the suppressed gun. I have no hope of recovering either of my firearms. I’m tangled in the vest, trying to pull it on without opening it, my arms twisted up over my head, my face covered completely, running into walls before falling down in what would’ve been the living room had it been furnished. I hear and feel slugs bouncing off the vest. I’m screaming, mostly at myself, cursing, humiliated again, in tears at my ineptitude, my cheeks flaming, shrieking through those tears, God damn it, God fucking damn it.

The first magazine is empty; the firing ceases. If he steps three feet to his right, he can simply dump into the living room after he reloads. I don’t dare move in what is now utter silence, thick with the stench of cordite. Something is burning, something plastic. He inserts another magazine, and I can hear him stepping into the bedroom through the tall, shattered windows after the spent magazine drops to the concrete walk outside the window, ringing out like an empty, discarded beer can.

I can see the streetlight beaming into the living room through the sleeve in the vest and know I’m oriented toward the windows. I just go for it, standing up and limp-running, screaming out in pain, smashing into the living room windows, tripping over the shin-high sill onto the sidewalk not far from where this all began, right next to the outside door. The vest has been knocked loose and by some strange instinct I hurl it back into the apartment, blind through the cloud of cordite smoke lingering along the outside wall of the apartment, hitting the assailant, spoiling his aim as he clears the corner from the bedroom; he fires into the ceiling. I can hear people screaming now, out through open windows, the fuck y’all niggas doin’, and I’m hollering back as I retreat from the apartment, call the police, call the fucking police, he’s in there, call the fucking SWAT team.

Who, they ask, and I’m kind of stunned by the absurdity of that question in this context. Who in there? They really want to know. I hesitate before shouting we don’t know his name but he’s dangerous, he’ll kill us all. he killed Kirchner. I hear someone laugh. Probably him.

I limp behind a parked car in the alley lot of the apartment building next door to see if I can get a glimpse of him as he leaves, to know for sure. All the windows and both doors are visible from this position. But nothing moves as roaring police car engines gather around me, headlights and flashing blue emergency lights chasing the night out of the courtyard through the gaps in the fence, and those lights flow the length of the walkway from the front of the building as squad cars collect there also. I very quickly concoct yet another series of lies to explain myself as I wave my badge around.

Hours later, the state bureau is grilling all of us, but especially me, as to how he could’ve escaped. Considering my vantage point and how quickly other police arrived, it seems impossible he could’ve slipped out unseen. There are no other exits. He must’ve fled when I had my back turned while hobbling to the alley, I explain to disgusted state investigators, who are livid I failed to fire either of my weapons, and rather skeptical of the entirety of my explanation as to why I was there in the first place. I shrug, smile meekly, reiterate myself, clearing my throat and stammering: I care about these victims, okay? I care about all my cases… all of them. Do I need to call a union rep?

The woman living upstairs was shot dead when the guy fired through the ceiling. Her family wails, curses in a language I don’t know. Eventually everyone moves out of the building, which is now effectively destroyed, even the Rectal Warlord posters in tatters, the records smashed, the books actually incinerated from muzzle flash, the smell of burnt carpet dancing on the night breeze. The two cameras which failed to record anything the first time were removed to make way for replacements which haven’t arrived. We tinsel it all in yellow tape anyway.

Then, more pointlessly than anything which has been done or undone up to this moment in this entire charade, the SWAT team finally arrives.


For all installments of “The Ambush,” click here.

Previous installments:

  1. Part 1: The Body
  2. Part 2: The Colony
  3. Part 3: The Surveillance; or, the Vigil over the Dead
  4. Part 4: The Philosophy of the Hammer
  5. Part 5: The Escalation
  6. Part 6: The Prayer Book