Chapter Six
“Nobody move,” Connie said. I won’t be responsible for the death of a prisoner. “Keep everything aimed at Watts and Bruen.”
“Why me? I ain’t done nothing wrong. That damned bastard pulled a gun on me and told me that I had to keep my mouth shut or he’d shoot me. He killed the deputy, and he wants to kill me, too. I don’t give a shit if you kill him, just don’t hit me,” Watts said. His voice shook. He tried to sound tough and strong, but Connie suspected that he’d crapped his pants.
Connie had won the department champion shooting trophy three years in a row. She didn’t doubt her shooting ability. But she wasn’t certain she could take the chance with the extenuating circumstances.
“Look, Mr. Bruen. You don’t want to do this. If you hand over your firearm, we’ll not pursue this with extreme prejudice. If you hurt this man, I can tell you that you will be hunted with the most extreme prejudice this office has to offer.”
“I killed a deputy. You think I don’t know what my shelf life is, Sheriff? You do the math. If, and that’s a big if, I make it to state I’ll be a hero inside, but those U.S. Marshals are Wyatt Earp cowboys who shoot on sight,” Bruen said. He spoke the words with calmness and purpose. Connie had read his rap sheet. He’d been through hostage situations before. He knew what he was capable of asking for and receiving.
“Marshals aren’t allowed to shoot on sight any more, Mr. Bruen,” Connie said. “Why don’t you tell me what you want, and I’ll see what I can do.”
“I want to get out of here.” Bruen readjusted his hand against Watts to secure his human shield.
Bruen would tire out…eventually. Until that time, the paramedics wouldn’t be able to tend to Dodge, and Hurricane Fiona would put them all in danger. “Hate to break it to you, Mr. Bruen, but that isn’t an option today. Perhaps we could give you something else. A more secluded arrangement until you get your transfer?”
“No, ma’am, we know that I’m not cruising to the Caribbean. I’m going to die in prison. Either by lethal injection or old age.”
“What do you want me to say?”
“I want you to say that I’m allowed to walk out of here without the lead.”
Connie saw the glimmer in Bruen’s eyes. He wasn’t joking around. His best case scenario was life imprisonment. Worst case, the needle. While Connie would not be grieving too much over his passing, she would rather it not be by her hand that he passed. He was out of options, and this was his last chance to go out on his own terms.
“Mr. Bruen, you know that I cannot allow that.” Connie aimed her gun. She heard rustling behind her. Marvin was getting an itchy trigger finger. Her cousin wasn’t accustomed to waiting and patience wasn’t one of his strongest suits. Ashton, she didn’t know well enough to determine his state of mind in a taut situation. Watts wet his pants; the dark stain spreading wider.
“For fuck’s sake, blow both their brains out.” one of the prisoners said.
She kept her attention focused on Bruen. “Mr. Bruen. Put the gun down. We need the emergency vehicles to come here to look at Dodge. He might pull through with enough time. It takes a while for the human body to shut down. It will help your cause to allow them to show up and administer to the deputy. We can say something in your favor.”
He wiggled his upper lip as if he needed to scratch it, but knew better than to move his hand away from the gun aimed at Watt’s cranium. “Tell me about the Todd Walton case.”
“This isn’t The Silence of the Lambs, and you aren’t Hannibal Lecter, Mr. Bruen. He pulled on me, and I laid him down. I didn’t think twice about it, and I would do it again if the same situation presented itself.”
“So what’s the difference here?” he asked.
“Not much, only I would rather not shoot another suspect,” Connie said.
“Why?” Watts said.
Her focus anchored on what she could see of Bruen. “They’ll pigeonhole a marker on you, like shooter. I would rather pick my own nickname.”
The corner of his lip twisted. She’d reached a part of him, but she doubted that they shared anything else. “I’ve been called many things in my life and most of them I never picked.”
“Like cop killer?” It was her cousin’s voice behind her.
“That one, I don’t mind much. In fact, I rather think it makes me a badass.”
A muzzle flash in the auxiliary light. No mistaking the sound of a gunshot. Gray matter sputtered and hit Connie on the cheeks and forehead. She thought the spatter might have hit her eyes, but it was her own squinting. Things didn’t slow down like most of those action flicks. This happened much quicker than the Todd Walton shooting. More people were involved in this showdown. Connie fired once she realized Watts was dead. The sounds of others behind her moving. Bruen used Watts as a shield. He dragged the cadaver in front of him to prevent further injury. Her round hit Watts in the chest. The blood trickled from the wound. She winced, but it wouldn’t make a difference. Watts was missing forty percent of his skull.
Marvin and Ashton arrived next to her. Ashton cried out. Connie turned her head to see Ashton hit the ground. He grabbed his upper right thigh. Gun shot. Marvin squeezed his trigger three times. All three times hit Watts. Connie conserved her bullets, as she couldn’t afford to waste any. If she shot, she wanted the bullet to mean something. She sensed Marv fired more in frustration, and his anger got the better of him as he shouted at Bruen.
Ten feet behind Bruen was an exit. Dammit to hell. The door lock would have been disabled and not reset unless manually done so to prevent a lockout. Bruen’s bottom hit the release on the door. He tumbled out in the rain. He forced Watts’ body in front of him as a roadblock.
“Are you all right?” Connie asked Ashton.
He grunted, “Get that sonofabitch! I’ll survive.”
Connie and Marv rushed to the exit. Marv reached the door first. He banged on the paneling. Stuck. Bruen must have put an obstruction in front of it to prevent them from leaving. Connie pressed up against the door with Marv. The combined body weight forced the door open. A wooden plank fell to the wayside as the rain pounded on them. Connie scanned to the right as Marv looked to the left. An alleyway behind the sheriff’s office. Rain covered any tracks.
“Over this way!” Marv said. She followed his line of sight to see movement on the other side of the street. The rain pelleted them harder.
Connie eyeballed her direction as she got on the radio. She called emergency services. They would have been closed from answering calls once the hurricane hit. It would be at least a day before she could get assistance from outsiders. This was her problem, and it was up to Connie to stop him. With nothing to lose, people seldom thought rationally. Bruen had the look of someone who was desperate. She hoped that Bruen was smart and left innocent people out of the equation. She would hate to have to pop another criminal.