I’m cruising, drinking an Orange Julius-with-egg, thinking of My Little Pony, when the Crown Vic’s hood buckles like a boulder hit it.
Engine shrieks. Cruiser bangs dead. Steam shoots straight up through the NOPD crescent.
I can’t hear any of that. Just noise like God chiseling inside my skull.
Two weeks into patrol, and I’ve just met my first assault rifle.
It picks my steel sedan apart like a duck on bread.
Windshield glass in my hair. Half the steering wheel in my lap. Upholstery a cloud around me.
It half-deafens me doing it. And fear? I’m just cold electricity under too-thin skin. My bulletproof vest feels thick as a water cracker.
Fuck the shotgun—I pile out the honeycomb that remains of the driver side door, fast as I can.
Hit the frying pan of New Orleans summer asphalt, flattened to my chin. The rifle’s roar is a wave above me, combing my pony tail.
I’m safe a split second.
That’s all it takes me to realize I exited the cruiser on the side the shooter is on.
The slugs are slamming through the cruiser from my side. It makes my hands into sweaty Jell-O as I try to draw my sidearm.
My only consolation as I fumble the Glock out is that if I die now, I’ll have only peed myself a little.
I roll onto my back, Glock bucking in both hands, and seek the shooter.
I find him, standing on a shotgun-house porch, about a second after he stops firing.
I want to start firing. At least scare him more than he did me. But this skinny 14-year-old with an Ice Cube afro, he just tosses the AK down in an “Aw Shucks” slump straight from Leave It to Beaver.
“Drop your weapon!” I tell him, right after he did just that.
“It dropped,” he says, then waves across the street, “But that Grubs banger over there on our block, he still up and getting away!”
“Get down on the ground!” I’m all business. Feeling calmer. Noticing how much a Crown Vic stinks when its guts are sprayed half across Benefit Street.
Kid looks at me like I’m the crazy one. “Why? I wasn’t shooting at you! I told you—I was trying to hit the Grub!”
“Get face down on the ground right now!”
“This is bullshit!”
“Now!” I rise up and he hits his knees, hands on his head, going through practiced motions. “You’re under arrest for assault with a deadly weapon!”
Kid huffs, pouts, whines as he lies down, “How could it be deadly? I didn’t even tag the motherfucker.”
I’ve still got a jackrabbit in my chest by the time the kid is cuffed. I’m thanking every god I can remember from World Divinity class at Georgetown. I want to call my parents—who I pretty much hate—and apologize for every bad thing I ever did.
The kid just looks bummed, like he had to put a quarter in the swear jar. I shoot him a what-gives look as I wait for a car I can load him into.
“Knew it,” he tells me. “Knew I should have bought the extended ammo clip. Those extra twenty shots, shit, would have put that bitch down for sure.”