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News & Features » January 2020 » “Ride-Along” by Ron Riekki

“Ride-Along” by Ron Riekki

Mondays Are Murder features brand-new noir fiction modeled after our award-winning Noir Series. Each story is an original one, and each takes place in a distinct location. Our web model for the series has one more restraint: a 750-word limit. Sound like murder? It is. But so are Mondays.

This week, a journalist follows a day in the life of a cop . . . 

Ride-Along
by Ron Riekki
Central Lansing, MI

“So.”  He’s got a flattop.  Very flat.  Like the International Flat Earth Society would research his head. “Wanna see something?”

He’s a cop. I’m not. It’s a Ride-Along Program. I did one before. With a cop who wouldn’t talk. I said I was a reporter and he didn’t speak the whole time, just told me to stay in the car no matter what. I never left the car. Nothing happened that night for five hours. He asked three times if I wanted to go home. Then they arrested “the city’s biggest drug dealer.” We got there a bit late. The kid was in cuffs, facing me, on the curb, our headlights pointed at him, so I had nothing to do but stare at him and he stared at me, except he couldn’t see me. I convinced myself of that. He could only see the lights. I was sure. Pretty sure. It made a great article. I wrote for a small newspaper. So small you’d need a microscope to read it.

I write for a bigger paper now. I don’t tell them that. Maybe he knows. But doesn’t seem to care. He’s already used two curse words. Not soft ones either.  Polysyllabic, lots of ks, words like fire popping.

“Sure,” I say.

He punches the car’s ceiling and a rifle falls into his hands.

“See that?” he says.

I do.

The barrel points at the window. If someone was standing there and he shot, the bullet’d go right into a heart.

He stuffs the gun back in place. I wonder what else is right in front of me without my noticing.

We drive.

A ten-hour shift. I don’t gotta do it all. I will though. But who knows? You never know what’ll happen.

He takes a hard right, heads away from the city. Back roads. Soon as we’re in the center of nothing, he says, “Ready?”

He floors it. Puts it up to ninety. Turns the sirens on. We hit little hills my mother calls “tickle-bellies.” He slows for a twenty miles per hour turn, takes it at forty. He punches it to a hundred.

He turns off the siren, stops, in the middle of the road.

“See that?” he says.

I don’t.

“Deer.”

He points. I don’t see it.

He turns the car around. We head back. At the speed limit.

“What’d you do?” he says.

“Try to survive.”

“Doing what?”

I wonder if I should say. Then I do. “Journalism.”

“Heard that pays awful.”

“Terrible.”

“Why you do it?”

“I like poking my nose in things.”

“Wanna poke your nose in some things tonight?”

Of course.

We drive. My window’s down. I hear the city. Cities sound like muffled anger.

“You want me to show you the city?” he says, “The real city.”

He knows my answer.

We pass the university. It’s everything here. It’s the universe for the city.

We hit a row of businesses.

“See that?” he says.

I do.

“Brothel,” he says.

“What?”

“You know what a brothel is?”

I nod.

“That’s one.”

“How you know?”

“We know,” he says.

We drive.

“See that?”

I nod.

“Crackhouse.”

“Really?”

“Not crack. Anymore. But we still call it a crackhouse.”

“What do they sell now?”

“Worse stuff. Stuff for people who wanna destroy brains.”

“Why don’t you go in, arrest ’em?”

“We wait.”

“For what?”

“When it’s time.”

“When’s that?”

“When they’re a problem.”

“Meaning?”

“We read their Twitter. Facebook. Every week. Every night sometimes. Criminals love social media. They’re blabbermouths.”

He holds the steering wheel like he’s choking it.

“Long as they’re not saying anything, we let ’em do what they do.”

“What’d you mean?”

He pulls over.

He points. I see a raccoon. It ducks in the forest.

“Half the people in this city commit crime. Drugs, speeding, shoplift, drunk/disorderly, graffiti, parking, whatever. Long list. We can’t arrest everybody. So if someone gets arrested, it’s because we don’t like you.”

“OK.”

“If you get pulled over for speeding, it ain’t random. People think it is. It’s not. Ninety percent of the time it’s not. Maybe you said something online we didn’t like. We’re patient. We wait. Then—”

We sit there. City on one side. Woods on the other.

“Aren’t you worried I’ll write this?”

I look at the city side, night getting ready to take over.

“Aren’t you worried we’ll read it?”  He starts up the car.

We drive.

He points. A house. Like the one I grew up in.

“Casino,” he says.

***

RON RIEKKI‘s books include U.P. (Ghost Road Press), Posttraumatic (Small Press Distribution), and My Ancestors are Reindeer Herders and I Am Melting in Extinction (Loyola University Maryland’s Apprentice House Press). Riekki co-edited Undocumented (Michigan State University Press), The Many Lives of The Evil Dead (McFarland), and edited And Here (MSU Press), Here (MSU Press, Independent Publisher Book Award), and The Way North (Wayne State University Press, Michigan Notable Book). 

***

Would you like to submit a story to the Mondays Are Murder series? Here are the guidelines:

—We are not offering payment, and are asking for first digital rights. The rights to the story revert to the author immediately upon publication.
—Your story should be set in a distinct location of any neighborhood in any city, anywhere in the world, but it should be a story that could only be set in the neighborhood you chose.
—Include the neighborhood, city, state, and country next to your byline.
—Your story should be Noir. What is Noir? We’ll know it when we see it.
—Your story should not exceed 750 words.
—Accepted submissions are typically published 6–8 months after their notification date and will be edited for cohesion and to conform to our house style.
—E-mail your submission to info@akashicbooks.com. Please paste the story into the body of the email, and also attach it as a PDF file.

Posted: Jan 6, 2020

Category: Original Fiction, Mondays Are Murder, Original Fiction | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,



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