Cutting Loose

At 2:00 AM, William Jackson, Sr., heard a car door slam down the street. He crouched behind the bushes ringing the foundation of the house, one knee in the dirt, and pulled the ski mask down his face. He steadied his breathing. The mask was comfortable enough in the cold New England winter but hot as hell in summertime. He’d cut the eyes and the mouth wider so he could breath, and see.

Between a gap in the bushes, he had a clear view of the front walk, courtesy of the sodium lamp that burned on the street; three concrete steps up to the walk, and then three more to the front door.

His target would never make it to the front door.

His fingers travelled gingerly over the Glock pistol, standard police issue, strapped on his hip.

Norman, the target, came into view on the sidewalk. The mere sight of the drug dealer – lanky, gangly, pimply – brought a flood of adrenaline and anger to William. He tensed like a sprinter in a starting box.

When Norman put one foot on the walkway, William burst through the bushes. He tackled the dealer squarely between the shoulders and drove the man flying into the grassy front lawn. He straddled his target, pinning the junkie’s legs with his knees, and clamped his gloved, left hand on the man’s mouth. With his right hand he brought out the Glock and rammed it against Norman’s temple.

Norman was built like a reed and struggled to no effect, eyes wide with fear and confusion. Reedy, like a snake; but slippery, too, and dangerous.

 “Quiet,” hissed William, “or I’ll blow your damn brains out.” Norman ramped down his squirming.

“Listen, Norman,” William whispered, “I’m only gonna say this once. Are you listening?”

Norman gave a shaky nod.

“You know that junkie, Billy Jackson, right?”

Norman nodded again.

“You’ve been making threats on Billy and his mother. Guess he owes you some money.” William leaned closer, increasing the pressure on the throat.

“That’s bad, Norman,” William spat. “If you ever, EVER, make another threat, even if you even look sideways at Billy or his mother, I will come back for you. I will come back and I will fucking kill you.” William pressed harder. His victim’s face began to turn a darker color and his legs twitched. “Do you understand?”

William let go. Norman panted and grasped for breath. Spittle dribbled from his mouth.

“I … understand,” Norman gasped.

William raised his fist as if to strike the junkie. Norman flinched. Instead, William jumped up, and stepped quickly from the lawn.

William strode quickly down the sidewalk. A few yards away, he lifted the mask off his sweaty face to the hair line. If someone happened to look out their window in the middle of the night, they’d see a guy with a cap on … strange, but hard to identify.

Rogue cop gets nabbed for beating drug dealer.

William chuckled. The bleeding-heart liberal ACLU-types would love to see that headline. But it wasn’t going to happen. At least not tonight.

He crossed a busy highway and climbed into his automobile parked in a shadowy side street. William knew it would take the police about 15 minutes to get to the scene from headquarters, since he worked at the station himself. However, he knew Norman wouldn’t call.

In truth, William didn’t know whether his threats would get Norman to back off. He could no longer afford to care. He planned to leave town and move to Florida in the next few weeks, having found a job with another police department, and a new love-of-his life. He would not be returning. One chapter in the book of his life had closed; another was opening.

As for his son, Billy … he was a useless junkie, not so very different from Norman. His son would be staying behind. William had given up on him a long time ago. He’d jumped Norman only because he felt sorry for his soon-to-be ex-wife. She lived with the kid. She’d become a target because of him. He figured he owed it to the lady to buy her some time to wake up and smell the coffee. Cut the kid loose, just like he had.

Starting now, they were both on their own.


Dennis Desmond is an attorney living in the Washington, DC area with his wife and daughter. He received his BA from the University of Massachusetts, Amherst, and his JD from Antioch School of Law. He is a member of the Writer’s Center in Bethesda, Maryland, and was a contributing author to Pipe Dream Blues by Clarence Lusane (South End Press, 1991). In addition to writing, his other interests include foreign languages and playing basketball.

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