Mama, a cut-off 16-gauge double barrel shotgun loaded with double ought shot
lay on the seat beside him. Five crudely
cut notches carved in what was left of the wood stock represented the dirtbags
he sent to hell. The weapon was lethal
as was the cop they called Shotgun. Firing both barrels into a door at close
range would leave nothing standing but the frame. Blasting into a person at
close range left a
mass of dead matter cleaned up with hoses and sponges. No ambulances or paramedics
were needed. The facts stood as they were: Cause of
death--being criminal and stupid. Bag
and tag them.
The weapon was not
department issued and required no range
qualification. No one
ever won an argument with Mean Mama and Shotgun Terry Kent. Mean Mama was a
certified argument-ending man-killer. It
was butt-assed stupid and suicide to approach Shotgun with a gun in your hand
or hesitate at a command he gave. There wasn’t time to pray before Mean Mama
exploded into action.
lean, tight-lipped 15-year veteran dirtbag exterminator had few soft tendencies
and never smiled. Every year of his hard life was written on his face. The
manhunter was a member of the police department's elite Anti-Crime Unit. He
caught bad guys—burglars, robbers, drug
and weapons traffickers and other assorted dirtbags—straight up or face
down. He liked the "Jack-in-the
box" assignments where he sat for hours in a cooler or backroom of a
convenience store waiting for a doped-up gangbanger to come in with a gun in
his hand and meet Mean Mama. He was violent to protect himself from
violence. All his kills were righteous
kills. So far, he had not killed any
innocents. But several innocents soiled their pants when he was in action. It
was a dangerous job catching criminals in
the act, but he was good at it. He dismissed his morbid talent by saying,
"Most people don't see what they see, but I do. They don't see what is
really there; I always do."
lonely man, he danced with himself. No partners. He didn’t want any distractions,
said. Others said he worked by himself
because he didn’t want any witnesses.
nickname ‘Shotgun’ followed him from the dense jungles of Nam where he used a
pump-action 12-gauge shotgun loaded with double ought shot to send the VC to
where ever they went when the Mean Mama vaporized them. No mercy. Not then. Not now.
early Saturday morning, Shotgun Kent worked in plainclothes and in an unmarked
car. He looked for burglars that plagued the closed businesses in the Valley
View shopping area. Shotgun was in his normal pattern of driving in the fronts
and rears of businesses looking for anything suspicious when the call went out.
all cars in the area of Valley View and 31st Street. Code 3--A rape
victim is standing on the
corner. She says assailant is driving by
her now. Give car numbers as you respond."
39, on the scene,” quickly came in.
rolled up to the corner as officers Blake and Hill talked to a sobbing young
girl about fourteen or fifteen. She buried
her face into the bulletproof vest the burly Blake wore. Quickly looking up,
she waved her arms and
frantically punched her finger at a blue Toyota slowly driving by.
pointed at the Toyota and yelled, “Shotgun, that’s him. The rapist.
Toyota picked up speed and drove toward the intersection. Turning left the Toyota
gained speed as Kent
closed the gap. He pulled alongside the Toyota and quickly twisted the steering
wheel, nudging the Toyota’s rear left panel.
A classic PIT maneuver. Shotgun
eased off and waited for the gutter-punk’s car to react. The Toyota spun
sideways, tires screeching as
they grabbed for traction. Black smoke filled the air.
old Gerry Williams, a high school quarterback and an A+ student, lost control
of the unguided missile as expected. The
Toyota’s floating back end jumped over the curb. The sound of the back tires
exploding echoed into the coffin-quiet grave-dark night. Gerry’s thoughts
spun out of control like the
spinning car. Who is he? Why did he
wreck me? Why are the police talking to
Janie? I went back to apologize and take
her home. Is he going to kill me? What
have I done? Janie hates me. My dad's car is wrecked.
glove compartment bounced open and daddy’s chrome .38 Detective Special flew
out and landed on the seat. Gerry
picked it up as the car came to rest.
The Toyota stalled out as the car slammed against a metal light pole. Oh
Lord, is it over?
wasn’t over. It just started.
Shotgun Kent grabbed Mean
Mama, opened his door and stepped into
the unfolding tragedy. He
was on a familiar stage with a routine script.
The scared, young boy unknowingly played his part in the dark
drama. The dazed teenager opened his
door and slid into the killing zone unaware that the pistol was in his shaking
hand. Some mistakes you live through
and some you don’t. Gerry was on the one-way road to perdition.
saw the shiny weapon of death and raised Mean Mama into Firing position. The
squawk box in Kent’s car erupted.
don’t shoot him. No rape. No rape. For
God’s sake don’t shoot the kid.”
Cavalry is coming. Gerry is saved. NO!
NO! NO! Shotgun Kent, the
Avenging Angel of Death was
too far from his car to hear the pleas for mercy.
Ben Rhodes rolled on the scene and found Shotgun
leaning on the front of his car smoking a cigarette. Mean Mama rested peacefully
on the hood. The boy lay splayed out in front of the
wrecked Toyota on his stomach.
Almighty, Terry you killed an innocent kid.
The girl said they had a fight and he put her out. Wasn’t no damn
rape. Lord have mercy, you killed a kid.”
I didn't Ben. I ain't killed
nobody. Go see for yourself,” Shotgun
said, slowly taking a drag on his cigarette and watching the white smoke drift
into the now peaceful night.
sergeant approached the shaking youngster lying in the puddle of urine.
you all right, young man? the sergeant asked.
Yes! Who’s the guy with that shotgun?” He asked.
Officer Terry “Shotgun” Kent. And, you’re
one lucky boy,” the sergeant added.
up and get in my car. We need to get you
and that little girl home.”
the young boy walked by Officer Terry Kent, he turned and said, “Thank you, Mr.
Shotgun, for not killing me.”
turned and locked eyes with the kid. “Sure kid, think nothing of it.”
Some say Officer Terry Kent
was smiling when he went
to the back of his car, unloaded Mean Mama and put the killing machine in his
trunk. Old heads don’t believe he
smiled, that’s too much to believe.
Maybe not; but Officer Kent never carried Mean Mama again. Why? There
was never an explanation. Maybe
the ghosts of those he killed caught up with him? Veterans know the ghosts of
those you kill
come back in the quiet times and nightmares.
Was the horror of the jungle over for Terry Kent? Not likely.
But it was better.
Vietnam War, many veterans joined police departments experiencing the effects
of the undisguised combat-related PTSD. The protagonist of Tom
Barker’s story was one of those victims. He has been a working police officer,
a trainer of local and federal law enforcement officers, a college professor,
and a college dean. He has written eighteen books and numerous articles. This
submission is the first of a series of fictional short stories based on his
Hillary Lyon is an illustrator for horror/sci-fi
pulp fiction websites and magazines. She is also founder and senior editor
for the independent poetry publisher, Subsynchronous Press. An SFPA
Rhysling Award nominated poet, her poems have appeared in journals such as Eternal
Haunted Summer, Jellyfish Whispers, Scfifaikuest, Illya’s Honey, and Red River
as well as numerous anthologies. Her short stories have appeared
recently in Night
to Dawn, Yellow Mama, Black Petals, Sirens Call, and Tales from
the Moonlit Path, among others,
as well as in numerous horror
anthologies such as Night in New
Orleans: Bizarre Beats from the
Big Easy, Thuggish
Itch: Viva Las Vegas, and White Noise & Ouija Boards. She appeared,
briefly, as the uncredited "all-American Mom with baby"
in Purple Cactus Media’s 2007 Arizona indie-film, "Vote for
lived in France, Brazil, Canada, and several states in the US, she now resides
in southern Arizona. https://hillarylyon.wordpress.com/