Black hat White Hat

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Status: Finished  |  Genre: Horror  |  House: Booksie Classic

Chapter 1 (v.1) - Chapter 1

Submitted: June 06, 2019

Reads: 51

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Submitted: June 06, 2019

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Chapter One 
 
“I don’t want to die this way” thought Deputy Bo Reynolds.
 
Late October is a poor time to travel too fast on Iowa’s secondary highways. Especially if you're tired after working a third shift. Even more so when a dammed skunk wanders out in front of you.  As Deputy Bo Reynolds and his cruiser neared a shaded stretch of road, an almost invisible sheen of frost became apparent. If you were looking for it. Bo wasn’t looking and never saw the rime. Just the black and white jaywalker, staggering along, taking his sweet time. The car started a slide as he veered away from the skunk. You have to veer for a skunk, or risk having your wheels stink to high heaven for who knows how long. This particular morning, veering wasn’t a wise choice for Bo Reynolds. Not on the slick asphalt pavement. 
Bad shit was happening. Right here, right now.
He crested a small hill and headed down the far side, locked in at 64 miles per hour. Fudging on your speed was just one of the unspoken perks of being an officer of the law. At the bottom of the small rise the road fell into a thin veil of shadow as it passed over a tiny stream flanked on one side by trees, their leaves mostly gone, looking tattered and barren. The little creek itself was only a few inches deep, but the gully it ran through was wide, bottoming out several feet down. The surprising fall was obscured by thick, golden-tanned weeds, mixed with untamed wild grass. 
It was so well-hidden most people traveling this way wouldn't even know they were crossing a creek unless they were familiar with the area. 
Catching the frost, car slip-sliding along, Reynolds corrected the fishtail, steering out of the slide. Almost. Things went downhill in the blink of an eye. The cruiser see-sawed and skated off the shoulder of the road, rolling towards its top, flying briefly, slamming down on the high bank of Upper Sioux Creek, a loud crunch and snarl of twisting metal. Little diamonds of shattered windshield danced in the open spaces of the cab. 
Bo saw none of this, heard none of this. His head banged into the steering wheel at impact, nearly knocking him out.
The weeds obscuring the rivulet offered no resistance under the best of circumstances. Coated in a mixture of dew and frost, they became a makeshift Slip-N-Slide. The car was no longer under his control. Before he could do anything about it, Reynolds found himself upside down in the cruiser, the vehicle itself resting on its crumpled top in the bottom of the invisible gully. Bo was hurt, not realizing it for several moments, stunned. He’d sustained nasty injuries, some of which were bleeding. A large gash on his head, crimson running down and dripping. He struggled to make sense of what had just happened, as his brain was slowing, becoming encased in fog. 
 
Bo “Burt” Reynolds was well known in and around Boone, Iowa where he patrolled as a sheriff’s deputy. He was also well respected. Most of the people in the area saw him as the kind of cop who did his job the right way, even when it meant things went badly for them. An OWI here. A speeding ticket there. Sometimes worse – a domestic violence bust, attempted rape, dealing drugs. It didn’t matter to him. He applied the law to everyone because everyone broke it at some point. Everyone. Bo’s job was to remind them not to do the things that violated the law. His law. Being a deputy was serious business for Bo Reynolds. 
Working in law enforcement carried great risk and no one understood that better than Reynolds and his brothers and sisters out serving on the front lines. Even in bucolic Boone County you know that today could be the day bad shit happens. You can’t prevent it, you can’t even see it coming, not usually. All you're left with is the job of stopping it once it starts. Bo relished the challenge. Bad shit will happen, but he wasn’t about to let any get on him. Until today. 
His friends and family called him Burt and he hated it. At the age of 19 he had grown a mustache and it looked good. Bo wasn't handsome in a Sears catalog model kind of way. But the ladies mostly thought he was a good looking guy. Plus he had an air, an aura about him. It was hard to explain, hard to pin down. It was also undeniable. The mustache was a rugged touch, giving him a strong resemblance to Burt Reynolds. Especially when he was off duty, when he would don western wear, replete with a cowboy hat.  Voila! The popular actor starring in “Smoky and the Bandit.”  So Bo was tagged with “Burt,” whether he liked it or not.
Being a lawman was really all he ever aspired to.  He knew as a kid that he wanted to be a good guy. A white hat would fit him perfectly. Six shooter on his hip. He loved the thought of riding in on his trusted steed and saving the school marm from some Black Bart type of ne’er-do-well. By the time he was 24, his childhood dream had become his reality. Bo Reynolds was a happy man. 
 
October 24th, 2014 was a Friday. Having pulled third shift duty, Bo was off at 8:00 that morning. The overnight had been pretty quiet. The usual handful of assholes driving drunk. Three speeding violations, though nobody was doing more than ten over. BFD.  At least he was close to his quota for tickets for the month. Speed kills, but it also pays the bills. Bo would get his numbers. He always did. Because people break the law. It’s just a given.
Autumn in Iowa can be a schizo time of year – beautiful sunny mornings, warm air and gorgeous colors in the trees as they fade from green to red, orange and yellow then brown, before giving their leaves back to Mother Earth. But that same afternoon could be a miserable cold, grey second act, when the wind freshened, and the temperature dropped as if mom was an unhappy lady. A 55 degree morning could easily fall apart and turn into a 40 degree afternoon, complete with a cold, bone-biting rain. 
Driving on a county road, the worst thing a driver would normally expect in late October would be a deer jumping out onto the highway.  Striking a deer can be nasty and even fatal. A raccoon or squirrel might make an ill-advised crossing but squashing them is no big deal. But there are other hazards lurking this time of year. Some may be difficult to detect. It might be a simple as a little frozen dew on the pavement. Even on a beautiful sunny fall morning.
Reynolds had known all of this but didn't think about it as he drove. He wasn’t thinking about much of anything. He was tired and ready to be home. Some eggs sounded good. He’d read the paper with breakfast and unwind for an hour. And then grab some shut eye. 
The cruiser’s tires hummed and thumped on the uneven black top as he headed for his little acreage. Weary from the long overnight, the hypnotic droning made him wearier. He  weighed skipping the eggs and heading straight to bed. Maybe a quick, hot shower first, just to help him relax. He’d decide when he got home. He had the whole weekend off, so he could do as he pleased.
 
“Gotta get help,” he thought to himself. “Gotta get dispatch on the radio. Let Cindy  know what happened.” 
Upside down in the cruiser, he tried to fight through the oncoming miasma, but his vision blurred, and the haze grew thicker, heavier. Growing from a white film to a dark grey cloud enveloping him.  “Gotta get some help.” He couldn’t tell if he was talking to himself, or just hearing his own thoughts as they repeated. His head started to pound. 
Semi-coherent and losing ground, he felt his injuries deepen their attack, sweeping through him with pain in a flash flood. A loud groan filled the upside down cab of the car. Blood oozed from multiple somewheres, wet and warm, but Bo “Burt” Reynolds didn’t notice. 
“Gotta get help’” he babbled again. “Gotta go get my dad. I don’t want to die this way.”
He drifted into unconsciousness. 


© Copyright 2019 C. D. Novak. All rights reserved.

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