“Say it again,” from Barney. “I’m with Tucker and you’re on speaker now.”
“Hello, Doctor,” from Brenner.
“We found some legs,” Brenner repeated. “A couple of high school girls on the track team were out running and saw a coyote eating something. They were curious and now they’re paying for it,” he said. “One of them was still gagging when I talked to her.”
“Guy legs or girl legs?” Barney asked.
“They don’t go up that far but they forgot to shave this morning.”
Barney rolled his eyes. “’Kay, Dave,” he said “I’ll be right out.”
“We’ll be right out,” Tucker corrected.
“Alright,” Dave said. “I’ll get out the tape and protect the scene ‘til you get here.”
“You do that, Dave,” from Barney. “Meantime keep an eye out for a really short person.”
“Roger that,” and the phone went dead.
Barney didn’t drive fast on the way to the scene and Tucker liked that. Right behind were a couple of Tucker’s crew in the wagon.
Barney shook his head and smiled.
“That Brenner,” he said. “Young, smart, good cop…reminds me of me except for his twisted sense of humor.”
“You’re the one who told him to look for a short person,” Tucker pointed out.
“My God!” mock surprise. “The guy is me.”
“Not quite,” Tucker said. “He can shoot really well.”
Barney’s face split into a wide grin. “The herpetologist,” he recalled. “Makes me laugh every time I think about that,” he said.
“I could have been killed,” Tucker complained.
“Yeah,” and Barney grinned wider as he remembered what he had been told.
The ‘man down’ call had pulled Tucker and his then new assistant, Mark, to the residence of one Frank Delowe. A young and very new cop was waiting for them outside the house. He was short and solid, obviously of Mexican origin.
“What we got?”
“Dead man on the floor,” the cop said. Tucker just looked at him. After an awkward silence, “My name is David Brenner,” he added.
“So what?” from Tucker and Brenner had stiffened slightly. “Are you sure he’s dead, David Brenner?”
“He’s cold and I couldn’t find a pulse.”
“Well that certainly satisfies me,” Tucker responded flatly. Mark was grinning, glad to see someone else twisting on the pointed end of Tucker’s attitude for a change.
They went into a room filled with glass aquariums, big ones, stacked three high against two walls. One in the middle had a garden hose leading into it and was full of water, still running over and going down the center drain.
“Turn off the water,” Tucker said and Mark went to comply while Tucker bent down to the body lying on the concrete floor. There were two fang marks right over the guy’s carotid artery.
“Hold it everybody,” Tucker said loudly and everybody froze. David was holding the turned off hose and Brenner automatically put his hand on his gun.
“Snake,” Tucker said. “Big one and really potent. Got him in the carotid and put him down quick.”
Three sets of eyeballs clicked frantically side to side as they looked as hard as they could without moving and maybe inviting a sneaky snake strike.
“Hanging out with you is no walk in the park,” Mark complained without moving anything but his mouth. “I could be safe with a bunch of dead people back at the shop instead of trapped in here with a killer snake.”
Brenner pulled his gun and that made Tucker nervous.
“Can you hit anything with that?” he asked.
“Sure,” from Brenner.
“He’s not going to hold still for you to shoot him,” Tucker pointed out.
“I can hit him,” David affirmed.
“Will you two quit blabbing,” from Mark. “Let’s get the hell out of here, preferably without moving.”
“Pull back to the center of the room,” Brenner said. He was turning his head now, trying to look everywhere. Wherever he looked he pointed the gun just like they taught him at the academy and the muzzle swept across Tucker and Mark several times.
“Quit pointing that damned thing at me,” Tucker said as he slowly rose to his feet.
“Don’t point it at me either,” Mark complained as he backed slowly toward them not certain if he was going to be shot, envenomed or maybe both.
“Don’t worry,” from Brenner and he added, “It’s the unloaded gun that kills. This one is loaded, cocked and the safety is off so it cannot possibly hurt you.”
“The hell with this,” Mark said. “I’m outt’a here,” and he threw down the hose getting ready to head for the door.
Brenner’s gun roared a deafening blast in the small room as he shot the head clean off the hose which responded with its own frantic death throes, dousing all three of them with copious amounts of water. That had been all the impetus they needed and they had burst through the door into sunlight and run a good distance from the house laughing like idiots.
“That was a great male bonding moment,” Tucker said and Barney laughed.
“Still sorry I missed it.”