John Brown’s Body

Cops are people, too - Editor

John Brown’s body sat next to his killer. The seat belt held him in the passenger seat of the big Ford truck, slumped over like a man asleep after a long fishing trip, trusting his buddy in the driver’s seat to get him home in the pre-dawn night. A Florida Gators hat was pulled low, covering the neat hole in the center of his head, the hole long since drained of blood and life. The man in the driver’s seat pulled into the short driveway to his townhouse. He swore quietly, hushed.

There were men inside his house, men that he did not expect. He could see two young punks trying to disconnect his TV in the dark and making a mess of it. An old white panel truck with “Fresh Shrimp” hand-painted on the side sat in his driveway, backed up to the open garage.

“What the hell now?” he thought. His idea was to put John Brown’s body in the freezer and deal with him later. Part of him was outraged at the kids in his house, messing up his life, no respect for the law or anything. He wanted to rush in with his gun drawn like on TV, and arrest them and be a hero. Of course, the silent witness in the truck would make that awkward. He backed the truck out of the driveway, lights off, and pulled up the street behind a palm tree where he could see the guys in the living room while he thought about it.

He thought of the seminar at work: the importance of turning negatives into positives, and he smiled. Of course. Watching the guys still working, he eased out of his truck and around the side. He threw John Brown over his shoulder and cut through the side yard to the back of the shrimp truck. The boys in the house had been optimists and left the truck open, sure they’d be back in a minute. The boys were also ambitious. There were probably a half dozen big flat screen TVs lined up with a couple of moving blankets to keep them apart. He wrapped John Brown in a blanket from the floor, shoved him back between two big TVs, and eased back to the truck. Soon he was heading down the road, lights on now that he was out of the neighborhood, radio up, singing along. Might as well head on in to work early, he thought. He had an important job, and there were things he needed to do.


A couple of hours later, Detectives Blackbeard and Terry sat in a black Crown Vic parked outside of the Waffle House on Highway 98 just inside the Panama City Beach city limits. Blackbeard closed his cell phone and shook his head at Terry.

“What I want to know,” said Terry, “why’s the call always come in when we’re getting ready to eat? Used to be, calls always came in while we were eating. Now they come in before and we don’t even get part of our breakfast. Probably calling us out just to chase drunk college kids running naked up and down the beach yelling ‘War Damn Eagle’ and picking fights.”

Blackbeard handed him a granola bar from the plastic Publix bag on the floorboard, snacks he’d picked up for his daughter’s soccer game that night.

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