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Don Yarber Don Yarber
Recommendations: 42

America, the new Police State


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She had a friend.

Please read the entire story before passing judgement


      America, the new Police State


         I guess you could call me a hunter.  I hunt criminals.  I’m a cop.  
       The investigation of a shooting in the student lounge of the university was assigned to me.  I have the honor of being the top homicide detective in Bloomfield, since there’s only one.  But then there had been only one homicide in the past 45 years, and I had solved it accidentally. Though this shooting was not a fatality, it fell under the heading of “attempted homicide”.  
       The case I had solved happened 15 years ago.  A man killed his wife, stuffed her in an ice chest and kept her remains in the basement of his home.  He had welded a hasp on the ice chest and put a padlock on it.  When his children asked about their mother he told them that she had ran away with another man.  They never questioned it.  Neither did anyone else.  
       I probably would never have investigated that case if it hadn’t been for an article I saw in the newspaper, the Bloomfield Times.  It was notification of an impending high school reunion.  One of the faculty names caught my eye.  Mr. Shastoc.  He was my shop teacher my senior year.  I had seen articles about the disappearance of his wife while I was attending classes at the university, and it struck me as odd that he was still teaching at my old high school.  I thought he would have retired.
       But apparently he hadn’t.  So I went to the reunion.
       When I walked through the door I thought I was in the wrong place.  All the people in there were old.  
       I looked around trying to find someone I recognized but there just wasn’t a single soul that I thought I might know.  They were all old.  
       In the corner was a fragile looking old man, shoulders slumped, bald head shining in the fluorescent light of the room.  He had his head in his hands, looking down at something on his table.  The tables all had mementos about the class of 85.  Scarlet and gold colored plates, scarlet napkins on a gold tablecloth, little cut outs of Lions dressed in scarlet and gold.  
       I sauntered over to where I could read his nametag.  Mr. Shastoc.  
        “Hello Mr. Shastoc,” I said.  “Do you remember me?”
       He lifted his head and stared at me through thick glasses.  “Should I?” he asked.
       “I’m Ron Colon,” I said.  “I was in your shop class in 85.”
       “Yeah, I guess I remember you,” he said, a drivel of saliva trickled from the corner of his mouth.  He picked up the scarlet napkin and wiped his chin.  
       “How are you, Mr. Shastoc?”
       “I’m O.K.” he said.  
       “How is Mrs. Shastoc?” I asked.  I had forgotten about his wife disappearing.
       “She’s fine,” he said.  “Couldn’t be better.  You married?”
       “Yes,” I told him.  “I married Bubbles McLean, you remember her?  She was a cheerleader and Homecoming Queen my senior year.  She couldn’t make it tonight, her mother is ill.”
       “What kind of job are you holding down, carpenter?”
       “No, I’m a homicide detective,” I told him.
       We talked a while longer and as other people arrived I drifted around looking at nametags and faces.  One guy who had been captain of the football team, big man on campus, and a bully approached me.  He looked at my tag and grunted, “Colon, can’t say as how I remember you.”
       I would have never recognized him.  He was two inches shorter than me, his shoulders were slouched, and he walked with the slow, uncertain walk of someone suffering from Parkinson’s disease.  I felt sorry for him for a second or two, then remembered how much of a bully he had been, and how he always teased me when I was in school.  Back then he could of crushed me with one blow.  But now I realized that if we tangled I could whip him with one hand tied behind my back.  Funny how time changes things.
       And that is the way it went the entire night.  It was like I had stayed young and everyone I went to school with had aged dramatically.  The world was changing too fast.  Much too fast.  
       A few days later I was suddenly struck with a hunch. Mr. Shastoc had lied.  I had a flashback of memory and the articles I had read in the Bloomfield Times crept into my skull.  How would Mr. Shastoc know if Mrs. Shastoc was fine?  Unless, of course, she had returned or he had remarried and there was a new Mrs. Shastoc.  Something just didn’t feel good about the disappearance.
       I didn’t have much to do that day and so I took some time and reviewed the missing persons case regarding Mrs. Shastoc.  Police had worked the case for a few weeks, determined that she had apparently left with a lover, and then the case went cold.  I got on my computer and dug up the marriage records for Bridges County.  There was no record that Mr. Shastoc had ever remarried.
       So what did he mean by saying, “Mrs. Shastoc is fine”?
       Later that day I stopped in at the old school and asked for Mr. Shastoc.  He had gone home, I was told.  He had turned in his resignation just that morning, cleaned out his desk and gone home.
       I knew where he lived.  I parked the unmarked patrol car at the curb and walked up the sidewalk and ten steps to his front door. The front door was open a few feet. I pushed the doorbell button and waited, heard the “ding dong” of chimes inside. Then I heard a shot.  Gunfire!
       I pressed a button on the radio on my shoulder.  
         “Shooting, 714 Baldwin St. Send backup.”
         My right hand jerked my 9MM service automatic from its shoulder holster as my left hand pulled the screen door open and I peeked inside.  Nothing in the living room.  Straight ahead was a door that I knew led to a dining room.  I had been in this house once, dropped off a blueprint, a late shop assignment.  
       With my back to the wall of the living room I slowly peeked around the corner and into the dining room.  Nothing there.  The next room would be the kitchen.  A door to my left opened into a hallway.  I repeated the standard precautionary steps into the hallway, then into both bedrooms.  Nothing.  
       Back to the dining room, then the kitchen.  On one end of the kitchen was a door.  I turned the knob on it slowly then stood clear and used my foot to open it.  It swung open on squeaky hinges.  I saw steps leading down to the basement.
       That’s where I found him.  In his hand was a 38 snub-nosed revolver.  He lay in front of an ice chest.  The ice-chest had a hasp and a padlock on it.  The top of Mr. Shastoc’s baldhead was gone.  Blood and bits of brains dripped from the ceiling above the ice-chest.
       Crime scene people arrived.  They cut the padlock off of the ice-chest and opened the lid.  Inside was Mrs. Shastoc, wrapped in a sheet, her body frozen as stiff as a side of beef in a deep freeze locker.
       All of that was 15 years ago.  Now I was standing next to a young man in combat uniform, Colt 45 strapped to his waist, semi-automatic weapon at port arms.  
       The victim and been transported to the hospital, and I was under arrest.
       They said that I had interfered with an investigation by Federal Agents.  All I had done was start to take names of students who had been in the lounge at the time of the shooting.  Some huge bulk of a plainclothes investigator wearing a dark blue suit had stopped me.
       “We’ll handle this,” he told me gruffly.
       “Wait a minute,” I said. “I’m Detective Colon, Bloomfield PD.”
       “Your authority has been suspended in this case, Detective,” he said.  “Federal agents are taking over this investigation.”
       “FBI?” I asked.
       “Yes,” I was told.
       “You don’t have any jurisdiction here,” I said.  “No one called in the FEDS.  This is Bloomfield, Indiana, not Berlin in 1952.”
       “FBI investigates all hate crimes,” he told me.  
       “What hate crime?” I asked.  “What the hell are you talking about?”
       “The victim was African-American,” he said.  “We have word that he was shot because of his race.”
       “Your nuts!” I said, vehemently, “He was AMERICAN.  I don’t care whether he was black, white, pink or scarlet and gold, I’m telling you the FBI doesn’t have any jurisdiction here.”
       “There was an article in the school paper about possible race issues on the football team here, and the victim wrote that article.”
       “So what, you idiot?” I screamed.  “That makes this a “HATE CRIME”?”
       “I’m telling you to stand back, sir,” the man said.  “If you persist in your questioning these students, you will be arrested.”
       So I was arrested.
       So this is what it has come to. A police state.  Murder isn’t just murder anymore.  If the victim is a different race than the perpetrator, it’s a HATE crime.  It doesn’t matter that a human being has been killed.  It didn’t matter that Mr. Shastoc was black and Mrs. Shastoc was white.  I guess he would have been convicted of a HATE crime had he lived to stand trial.
       If this victim had been a homosexual and had written an article about homophobic people, I guess it would be classified a HATE crime.  Murder is murder, why amplify it by tagging another name to it?  Since when is it a crime to hate something?  I hate insurance companies, incompetent attorneys, pill pushing doctors, and television money sucking evangelist. I hate high school bullies like the old man that couldn't remember me at the reunion. Is that a crime?
       I guess if I had shot the damned stupid FBI agent who arrested me it would have been a HATE crime, since I hate stupidity and there’s a lot of stupidity in this new Police State country we live in.

                     The End


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