“That’s right! You heard me. Anyone even comes near a door or window and I’m gonna blow someone’s brains all over the wall. If that doesn’t teach you anything, I got myself to do too!” Bennie Hodgson was a small time crook. He had a record as long as your arm, as the expression goes, dealing in everything from bookmaking to burglary, but this was a first. Bennie wasn’t known for violence, in fact, just the opposite. He wasn’t particularly big. He stood all of five feet six inches and weighed in at a hundred and six pounds. He wore horn rimmed glasses that looked too big for his face, a perception amplified by greasy black hair that hugged his head. Bennie had spent a third of his 27 year of life in jails, a testament to either overcrowding or judges almost bored with Bennie’s antics in contrast to the truly vicious bad guys cycling though the system.
“Take it easy Bennie.” said Detective Dan Kramer through a tinny sounding bullhorn. “There’s no reason to go off like this. Let’s just call it a day and you come out and we’ll get whatevers wrong fixed up. okay?”
“Stay away, man. Just stay away!”
“What’s this all about, Benny? C’mon, man. Talk to me.” The truth is, the cop had no idea why Bennie was holding hostages. The other beat cops, their patrol cars parked haphazardly in the street didn’t know either. No calls were in on any crimes, it was a dull day, crime-wise.
“You know what this is about! Don’t give me that crap. I let them go and you’re gonna kill me!”
“Bennie! Bennie! Nobody’s gonna kill anybody. Nobody wants that kind of grief today. All the paperwork. C’mon, man. Come on out.” Three gunshots broke the quiet of the afternoon, shattering a window in Bennie’s house. “Jesus, Bennie! You’re gonna hurt somebody doing that stuff. Cut it out, man. This ain’t like you.”
“See how easy? See? I could shoot everybody just that easy. Starting with this tramp of a wife I got.”
“Sure, Bennie. I see it could be easy. But you gotta take it easy. No more shootin’ dude. You keep shootin’ and SWATs gonna end up comin’ over here.”
“I don’t care! Let ’em come.”
“Come on, Bennie. You don’t mean that. So look, what’s this about? Talk to me Bennie!”
“I can’t get a break. Nothin’ ever goes good for me. Today is just more of the same. I come home and what? I find my tramp slut of a wife bought a computer!”
“I don’t understand Bennie. What’s wrong with that?”
“She used the money I had put aside for the game tonight. I got no money to play with and I had five suckers all lined up to play. It would have been kids play, man. I coulda got ahead a little. But no, the dizzy bitch takes my stash and buys a computer.”
“Jesus, Bennie. I kin see how you might be a little torqued off, but what’s with the gun? Whys it gotta be so harsh?”
“I come home and here she is with the computer, and she’s talking dirty to some dude on a dating page. It’s all right there in black and white what she wants to do with this guy.”
“Wow, I guess that’s kinda tough, Bennie. But it ain’t worth this, is it?”
“I tell her I’m gonna kick her ass and what does she do? She calls her brother. Big Jim. You know big Jim, right?” Everyone in town knew big Jim. His record was as long as Bennies, but all of his beefs were over beatings he’d given. Some over not liking the way a guy dressed, or the way a guy laughed. He kicked the crap out of a guy because he didn’t like Subarus and this guy was driving one. “So now Big Jim says he’s comin’ over to rip my arms outta their sockets. What can I do? I gotta kill him else he’s gonna kill me. And then I’m gonna kill this bitch and her whiney kids fer causin’ me the beef. I may even kill myself!”
“You say Big Jim is comin’ ta getcha?”
“And you’re gonna kill him and everybody? Even yerself?”
“Wow, Bennie. You’re in a tough spot.”
“Yeah, and I’m in the front yard waitin’ for Big Jim to show and then what happens? Goddam nosey Mrs Bilkerstein across the street sees me an’ the gun and she calls you guys. I just can’t get no breaks!”
The detective heard the rumbling even before he saw the powerful tan Urban Assault Vehicle and the black SWAT truck roll around the corner. The detective sighed. Seeing SWAT was always the prelude to a conflagration, what with the Congress mandated militarization of the police forces. Now all police departments had a SWAT team, able to call up the full might of the US military. The truck stopped in the street, but the UAV drove right up onto Bennie’s pathetic yard with its dead grass brown with splotches of packed plain dirt. The SWAT commander strode over to where the cops were clustered behind their cars. “What’s the situation here, Detective?” he asked. The detective gave him the rundown. The SWAT commander thought for a minute and then nodded to himself and then walked back to the truck and his troops. The detective and the cops watched as a conference ensued, hand gesticulations, pointing and a few hand signs were responded to with nods. Then the group broke and formed a perimeter semi-circling the house. The SWAT commander returned to where the detective stood. “Tell him to come out.” he ordered.
“Bennie! You gotta come out, man. SWAT’s here and ya gotta give it up.”
“I’m not giving anything up. I swear ta God I’ll kill everybody!”
The detective looked at the SWAT commander and shrugged. The SWAT commander spoke into his shoulder mic. He said one word: “Green.” With that the SWAT team began to pepper the house with a fusillade of gunfire, grenades, LAWS rockets and the UAV barking through its cannon, one shot after another. The house began to disintegrate, pieces flying every which way, smoke and flames erupting from within. The noise was tremendous, and when it stopped, no one could hear anything but the ringing in their ears. Bennie’s house was a foundation topped with the dark dust of smouldering ruin.
“WHAT THE HELL WAS THAT?” screeched the detective.
“Policy. We acted to protect the suspect, his hostages, our forces and the neighbors. He said he was gonna kill everyone, we merely expedited the situation for a safer outcome.” With that, he made a circling motion with his finger and the SWAT team moved back to their vehicle and disappeared inside. Then the truck, with the assault vehicle bringing up the rear disappeared down the street.
The Detective stood mute, looking at the scorched patch of ground. He sighed and looked toward the uniforms congregated by their cars. “Someone clear the scene. I’m goin’ to a bar.” he said. He got into his car and went the same way the SWAT vehicles did. The first responding uniform reached into his car and picked something up. He made his way over to Bennie’s mailbox, the only thing left standing. After a minute of writing, he left a ticket for littering and burning without a permit. With a wave to Mrs. Bilkerstein, awestruck in her front yard, he waved the other uniforms off and they all drove away down the street.