Gangsters Inc. - www.gangstersinc.org

By Thom L. Jones for Gangsters Inc.

The squad gets called in early on Monday morning for the briefing. There’s ten members of this one, here in the city. Everyone has done the courses and the training, and it’s believed they are the best of the best. They are known as the AOS- the Armed Offenders Squad- and it has been in business, nationally, since 1964, dealing with criminal situations outside the reach of the traditional patrol officers. When they hit the street, they are backed up by canine patrols and specialist negotiation teams. They are one of seventeen units across the country. Their job is to cordon, control and where possible, disarm armed and dangerous criminals, and there’s no shortage of them in this part of the world.

The eight men and one woman police officers sit around a long table. The head of the squad, Senior Sergeant Joe Makoare, stands next to an easel on which a story board is mounted. It details the operation they are assigned.

A map of the area showing the location deep in the bush, north of the city, the lay-out of the target, and photos of the key players they expect to find when they do the bust. It’s a drug raid, one of the many that takes place regularly across the country.

The AOS are being used because this one might be extra edgy seeing as how it’s operated by a chapter of one of the more dangerous motor cycle gangs that operate in the district. Maori compose entirely the Evil Scum, as they do most of the motorcycle gangs across New Zealand. They have lived up to their name since they formed as a rebel offshoot of one of the biggest gangs, The Mongrel Mob, which emerged in the late 1960s because of a lethal mix of ingredients- unemployment among ethnic minorities in poor areas, lack of education and any opportunities.

Gang members live for their patch, their badge of honour which signals them out. It’s their reason for living their poor, pathetic lives. They endure a meaningless existence with no actual future, simply waiting to be loaded into the ambulance at the bottom of the cliff. They are also extremely dangerous, as individuals, and in any group combination. The AOS will be the leveller if the police operation runs into any kind of road-block.

Everyone around the table is a seasoned street officer and they work routine duties until called in on an assignment of this nature. The lone woman here, Constable Jenny Davies, normally does a day shift dealing with domestic violence and child abuse cases. There’s more of them than any civilized community should have to carry. New Zealand is a sparsely populated country of five million in a geographical area about the size of Great Britain. It’s also disproportionately represented in the league of crimes against the population from rape and bodily harm to espousal abuse and child murder.

The rest of the squad comprises career cops who spend their normal days clearing up after the mess that stupid, irresponsible, vacuous people leave behind them like a visible slug trail through the urban nightmare of their lives. They are no strangers to the evil that men, and women, do to each other, and as is the way in their chosen careers, they have become cynical and immune to the daily smorgasbord they are served of shattered lives and lost dreams. And so they sit and take down the details in their black, PVC covered note-books, collecting facts and information that might serve them when they move in on the target: Who should be there? How many can they expect to find? What weapons may they be exposed to? What lines of egress and exit will be in place? How many cops in total will be mustered for this exercise?

They are most familiar with the key players in this gang. They have gone after them before. A recent fracas in the city left two of the Scum seriously injured when they tried to tussle with the AOS and two dog teams, and Sergeant Makoare and his team know there is nothing waiting for them up in the bush but trouble.

The sergeant is himself a Maori. Tall, heavy in build, with short-cropped black hair. It’s the height of summer and he’s dressed in dark blue uniform pants and light blue, short-sleeved shirt, showing off his heavy arms, one of which features a Moko on the right forearm. The Moko is a Maori tattoo, a sign of cultural importance normally linked into an iwi or tribal reference.

His brother Nate carries his on the face, the ultimate statement of one’s identity as a Maori. They believe the head to be the most sacred part of the body to the Maori race and wearing the Moko there is to bear an undeniable declaration of who you are. Extremists, or people way out on the cultural wing, believe that only death can deprive them of this definition of what they truly are.

Makoare runs through the drill for the exercise that is scheduled to take place the next day. They need to secure the area, block off escape routes, arrest everyone found and maintain the integrity of the place in order for the C.I.B. (Criminal Investigation Branch,) and if necessary, officers from the Custom and Exercise Department to carry out a thorough search and assessment of what is found. According to the skinny provided by a confidential informant, the gang members have been cultivating a huge crop of cannabis and there may even be a ‘P’ lab on the premises. If this is correct, it adds an extra dimension to the job.

The manufacture and processing of ‘P’ or as it sometimes referred to, ‘Ice’, is extremely dangerous, and presents an additional hazard that the squad and the rest of the police involved in the operation will need to be aware of. Methamphetamine is potentially a very addictive substance. It belongs to a group of drugs known as ‘Stimulants’ and works by releasing into the blood high levels of the chemical dopamine, stimulating brain cells, enhancing mood and body movement.

In essence, it can make people go off their head and do dangerous and very unpredictable things.

New Zealand authorities classified it as a Class A drug and is the root of the fastest growing drug addiction the country has experienced in the past fifty years. Usually made from pseudoephedrine, often found in cold tablets, as a basic ingredient, it can be manufactured relatively easily, although the process can be highly unstable, and the police rates at the most dangerous level raids on ‘P’ labs.

When he’s finished, the squad sits talking, checking out the details, making sure nothing left to chance. They’ve worked together for some time and are comfortable as a group. Like most cops, everywhere, they not only work together, they also socialize together, at the police bar here in the headquarters building, or at family functions and barbecues. It’s one of the great ironies of life that the police, whose very existence depends on the cooperation and support of the public, can never mix easily with other people outside their own, close-knit fraternity. Almost everyone, at some time, will call upon the police for help, but few will openly admit them into their own social circle. Freud and Nietzsche would no doubt have worked overtime on this one and still never truly worked it out.

The ETD for the operation, which the top brass have called, tongue in cheek, ‘Dawn Breaker’ will be four the next morning. The police want to arrive and contain the area by no later than five while the gang members are still sleeping, assuming that most of them will be the worse for wear after a normal night of excessive drinking and drug-taking, and will therefore offer little or no resistance. That’s the plan, although as Constable Will Freeman of the squad, a big, tough Yorkshire man often remarks: ‘There’s many a slip ‘twixt the cup and the lip.” The rest of the team hopes he’s wrong, as usual.

Sergeant Makoare leaves the room and goes and signs out a patrol car. He drives across the city, down to the river and along a narrow road until he arrives at a small, one-storied house.

It’s painted yellow and has a tin roof. There’s a small yard to the front, neatly lawned and bordered by Impatiens and Pansies, and over to one corner, is a Kowhai tree. Next to the house, hanging over and shading it from the mid-day sun is a huge Pohutukawa, in full bloom, its flame-red stamens clustered among the branches, and littering the lawn around the base of the tree. There’s a veranda running the length of the property and a woman is sitting on a rocking chair, near to the front door.

Joe pulls the car into the narrow drive running up to the car-port, and stops, switching off the engine. He sits there for a moment, listening to the radio chatter. A pile-up on the motorway north of the city, an armed robbery at one of the many banks down in the CBD, a man collapsed outside the public library, possible heart attack, a drunk throwing a rubbish container about near the harbour, two women fighting outside a Lotto shop near the Pierce Arcade in Dover Street. He smiles to himself. Just another average day in God’s Own Country. I’m on my lunch break, not my problem until I get back, he thinks. He leaves the patrol car and walks up to the house.

“Hi, ma, how’s the morning going?”

The woman is in her sixties, thick black hair turning grey. She has a strong, noble kind of face with eyes that are green like pure emeralds, the best kind of green, like a meadow in springtime. They laugh and dance each time she blinks, and when she smiles and lifts her arms to her son, it’s like the opening of gates to a sanctuary.

 

Whina Makoare, the mother of Joe and his five brothers and sisters, lives here alone, since her husband died three years before. If his schedule allows it, Joe visits her on his lunch break. Apart from one other brother, the rest of the family have scattered across New Zealand, and they gather now with their kids, only at Christmas or when there are weddings or funerals to attend.

“I’ve been real busy, son,” she says, as she stands and straightens her skirt. “I cut the damn grass, back and front, and did some weeding and pickled fruit and veggies and took the dog to the vet for his shots,” all this in one breath. “Still found time to make us lunch. Come on in,” and she turns and goes in through the lead-light glass front door.

The bungalow’s entrance opens up into a large living area with a door leading back into a kitchen and dining area. There’s a short hall that goes down to the bedrooms and bathroom. The place is small, but spotlessly clean and filled with old, comfortable furnishings. She’s bustling about in the kitchen, talking the whole time, as Joe finds a seat near the ranch slider that leads out onto the patio and the backyard.

“I got me some nice export quality lamb chops from Dickey Porter, and I’ve done your favourite potatoes, thinly sliced and fried with rosemary, and there’s Kumara and some of my own fresh garden peas and mint sauce, so make yourself comfortable and I’ll have it on the table in a wink.”

Joe leans back, closing his eyes, listening to the war going on in the kitchen and wonders why everyone can’t just be like this wonderful woman.

“You heard from anyone recently?” he asks.

“Robert and Hine rang a couple days ago. Things seem okay with them. Nothing special. You know what they say, ‘no news is good news’ eh.” His eldest brother and sister, who have lived in the capital city for many years now. Rob’s a political aide in parliament and Hine has a good job in the media, with some big advertising agency. “Nate called in yesterday; out of the blue that one was.”

Joe sits up with a start.

“I thought he was in Auckland. When did he get back down here?”

“I really don’t know for sure,” his mother says. “Maybe the middle of last week or even over the weekend. He’s down here for a few days to see some of his friends.” She pauses, “Not the word I’d use to describe those rat bags.” She shakes her head as though trying to rid herself of a ringing in her ears. “Your father and I brought up six kids. They’ve all done good except him. What was it made him take the wrong turn? I think about it every night.”

She carries on preparing the meal and they sit and eat, talking about everything under the sun except the bad brother.

Later, out on the porch, she sits smoking and Joe leans against an overhang upright, looking out across the garden onto the river and the city that stretches as far as the eye can see. He remembers as a child, when they lived down the road in a much bigger house, there was nothing around here but fields and trees and an openness that filled the day like an enormous question mark. He and Nate would swim in the river, jumping off the pier down by the dock, or they would take the old dinghy out and go fishing at the river mouth, hoping to catch something on the incoming tide. There was only two years between them; they were the youngest in the family, and for this reason, the closest.

Blood brother’s people called them. Joe and Nate, the twins that weren’t.

Joe was the eldest, but Nate was smarter than the years that separated them. He had a feral cunning, allowing him to explore dimensions that seemed out of reach to his older brother. There was something about Nate that made people stop and think twice before taking him on, even when he was just a kid. As he grew into adolescence, and then adulthood, no one in their right mind would even contemplate it.

He travelled through life like someone on a mission, except like a ruptured registry on a computer, there appeared to be too many keys missing, making the destination unknown and perhaps unachievable. Although his parents offered him the same opportunities as his siblings, Nate opted out of the education system, and went off into his own version of the brave unknown world. He submerged himself into a universe governed by drugs, crime, and the inestimable belief that his Maori heritage was all he needed to protect himself against the self-righteous intolerance of the civilized world.

Like most minorities the world over, he found this kind of approach was a panacea, except it would never get elevated above primer one standard.

Joe leans over and sneaks a cigarette from the pack on a table by the rocking chair.

“I thought you’d given up,” his mother says.

“Yeah. For Xmas,” Joe says.

“That was two months back,” his mother replies.

“I know. I’m speaking retrospectively.”

She shakes her head and laughs softly.

“So, anything exciting happening in your life?”

Joe shakes his head. “Nothing special. Just work. You know, keeping on top of it. Holding back the flood. Trying to keep the thin blue line in place. Stuff like that. Life and all it offers. What more can you want?”

She looks at her son and wonders where all the years have gone. All past so quickly. He and Nate came late to her marriage. The other four were growing up when these two came along, out of the blue, both of them. For this reason, she felt something special towards them.

They filled her life with hope and so much happiness it was as if her days were overflowing with joy and contentment. And as they grew, she noticed the difference between them. Joe on the one hand filled with boundless energy, caring and self sustaining. Yet Nate appeared his life was heading in such a different direction altogether.

There was a Maori saying: ‘Ko te uri o pani’ which translated into English meant ‘Child of an orphan’, literally one who has no friends. This was how Nate developed from his youth into adulthood, a man apart, living it seemed on a different plane to everyone else around him.

He’d moved away from this place, staying in and around the biggest city in New Zealand, the place the people there called ‘The City of Sails’ but everyone else around the country called Jafa{ land of the Jafa’s. With the contempt all smaller, suburban cities acknowledged their bigger cousin, people called their counterparts in the huge, sprawling metropolis, ‘Just another fucking Aucklander.’ Now that he lived there, Nate carried the stinger as just another badge of honour to match all the others he had accumulated over his lifetime.

“You might look out for your brother, find out what he’s doing down here,” Joe’s mother asks him.

“Yeah, I’ll ask around, check out some of his mates, see what they know. How did he seem, in himself?”

Whina finished her cigarette, stubbing it out in a small marble ashtray on the deck.

“It’s hard to know with Nate. He seems to drift through life like one of those gondoliers in Venice. Poling his way to wherever it is he’s headed. You know those Aboriginal paintings made up of dots. They call them ‘dreamings,’ a kind of coded version of their world, maps of their aspirations and hopes, wool gatherings that fill their very being. I often think Nate must have some of their blood in him somehow. He’s probably one of the greatest dreamers I’ve ever known.”

Joe looks at his mother with something close to amazement. He’s never known her to talk like this about anything. The arrival of his brother has obviously touched a nerve, set off some sort of seismic upheaval in her life.

“He was never the kind of person you could easily relate too, was he?” says Joe. “Even when he was just a kid, I remember, he always wanted to be part of the grown-ups circle. He’d rather be with them than play with the other children; always trying to impress people with what he knew and how clever he was. Remember that?”

His mother nods. “He wasn’t the easiest child in the neighbourhood, that’s for sure. Sometimes, he drove me almost crazy, he was so possessive and demanding. There were times he left me physically exhausted. I only wish I knew what is was that drives him. What he’s looking for. If I did, maybe I could help him.”

She sits in silence as Joe finishes his cigarette, and then he kisses her goodbye and leaves, heading back for the police headquarters building to finish the details for the operation that is to go down the next day.

The target the police will hit is a complex of buildings: an old farm tenant house and outbuildings. It is in an open space in deep bush, about a thirty minutes drive from the city. There is a logging road that leads up into a pine forest, managed by one of the biggest companies in the country. This road runs from the major highway, past the dense bush in which the target lies. There is a staging area earmarked off this road, about a five-minute walk from the buildings. This is where the police will assemble and the HQ van will set up. The court registrar has issued a search warrant to cover the buildings. This will be enforceable for one month from its issue date.

There will be about forty people involved in the assault on the target. These will include a LET squad, a law enforcement team, made up of specialist police officer, some CIB, criminal investigation bureau detectives, at least two ambulances and paramedics, a fire brigade unit to provide body washing equipment for if they find a ‘P’ lab, at least two canine teams and as backup,a group of general duty police officers. In addition, a unit of Custom and Excise officers with their specialist equipment will be on hand if a lab is found on the premises. With this number of people and organizations involved, ‘Operation Dawn Breaker’ is a major project and permission to mount it has had to come down from the highest level at district headquarters.

Joe and his team will be the van unit, first in, to secure the premises and contain the people found there. Everyone else will wait at the staging area until the AOS confirm the area is secure. The squad will be in radio contact with each other and the HQ van from the moment the operation is go.

Joe makes his way to the secure garage in the police's basement to check off the equipment roster and make sure everything is ready for the next morning.

The team will each carry a Glock 17 pistol and a Bushmaster M4A3 .223 calibre semi-automatic rifle. In the backpacks they will carry, are stun and gas grenades. They will be kitted out in black overalls, combat boots, a balaclava, and eye goggles and will wear a Kevlar vest and a heavy helmet. The Bushmasters are stacked, two to a green, plastic case, with a carry-handle, along with four thirty round magazines. All locked into a Holden station wagon, which Joe will drive to the site. His squad will be taken along in one of the Customs vans. He checks and re-checks the equipment, hoping deep in his heart that none of it will have to be used.

His last task late in the afternoon is to check in with the Inspector who will oversee the entire operation from the HQ van. They sit talking in the big office overlooking the car park, sipping on some good scotch whiskey, courtesy of the desk drawer, the sort of things all cops here talk about-sex, sport and cars in that order, and then inevitably, the operation going down the next morning.

Denny Ten Eyck, the inspector, is a tall, thin, blond-headed man in his mid-forties. Born in New Zealand, his forebears came to the country from Holland, and he often refers to a great-great-great uncle who fought as an army officer against the Sioux Indians in the American west. As a result, the police at the station refer to him as ‘Sitting Bull’. He’s a good cop, fair and tolerant, and prepared to give anyone the benefit of the doubt. He can’t stand PRN’s and makes no excuse for this attitude. Anyone convicted of a crime in New Zealand is given a personal record number, and cops refer to criminals as either crims or PRN’s. He particularly despises gang members and their culture, and is looking forward to taking down the particular group they have targeted.

“You got everything sorted for tomorrow?” he asks Sergeant Makoare.

Joe nods, taking another sip of the malt. “As much as we can expect. There’s been a recce by the OC on the investigation, and we have a full plan of the principal building and the cars we expect to find parked there. There’s only one track into the place and we’ll have that covered, so no one’s driving away. Count on that. According to the CI, we expect there to be about ten or fifteen of the muppets on site. There’s bound to be weapons of some sort stashed in the place, so we go in full blast, stun and gas, and wait for them to come out. If we’re lucky, the only ones to get hurt will be the dry rot and the cockroaches. If not,” he shrugs here, “it won’t be any of us, that’s for sure. There’s something about this whole thing that bothers me, though.”

“What’s the ups with that?” asks the Inspector.

“These cunts, they just don’t have the brains for something as big as this is supposed to be. We’ve been dealing with them for a while and the only smart thing they’ve ever done up to now, is cross the road without getting knocked down. A sophisticated drug operation like this seems to be, seems way out of their league.”

“Maybe there’s someone else behind it, and the Scum are simply providing the muscle.”

“That’s about the way I figured it out. I just wish I could lay me finger on who that might be.”

The two men sit and drink, talking for a while, and then Joe makes his god-byes. He goes to the locker room and changes out of uniform and then, driving his own car, heads off into the city. He goes down to the old part, near the river and the port area. Here, the streets are narrow and crowded with geriatric houses and commercial properties; the footpaths cracked and sprouting weeds. There’s lot’s of motor repair shops and panel beaters in this area and several pubs used by criminals as gathering places where they can meet and socialize with their peers.

Joe visits them all, talking to the owners and shouting a number of lags drinks, easing his way through a routine he knows all too well- asking questions without seeming to. No one appears to know anything about his brother. If he’s back in town, it’s news to them.

At the last pub he visits, The Occidental, he finds someone who can supply the answer. A small, grimy establishment that held the record in local police lore for the number of 1510s: code for serious assaults, and 10-10s: officer requires immediate assistance, it occupied a corner site, facing the river. Joe has never liked this place. It wasn’t so much that most of the people who came here had lost themselves; the majority had never even found themselves. It was more that it acted as a magnet, drawing into its dark, foetid drinking rooms, the worst of the worst that comprised the bottom of the barrel in which sloshed the dregs of the misplaced and disconnected human beings who occupied so much police time and effort daily.

It was too early for most of the regular clientele to have assembled yet, and the main bar was almost empty. There was a pool table in one corner and a man was clicking balls together, playing himself. Joe walked over, standing by a poker machine, waiting for the man to finish his shot.

“Tem. How’s it going man?”

The man straightened up, squinting a bit, until he recognized the man who was talking.

“Sergeant Joe. I’m good. How’s the world in your corner?”

“You want a drink?”

“Do dogs sniff each other, eh?” laughing at his own joke."

“Take a seat. I’ll bring one over.”

Joe goes to the bar and orders a couple of beers and a double Jim Beam, straight up, and takes the drinks back to the table where the other man has rolled a cigarette from a pack of Drum.

Temuera Henare is a man of medium height, stringy build, with a shock of black hair above a face that looks like a pickled walnut gone bad in the sun. His face has more wrinkles and creases than a Shar-pei and his ugly, stained teeth only add to the overall picture of a life lived badly. He nods at the tobacco pouch on the table.

“You want a rollie?”

Joe shakes his head, no. And passes a beer and the shot glass over the table. Henare pours the whiskey into the beer and then drinks half of the glass, straight off. He leans back in his chair and draws deeply on the narrow twist of the cigarette. He’s a man who has lived on the fringes of the underworld all his life, and like most recidivist criminals, does what he does badly.

As he looks at him, Joe realizes that without the stupidity of the average crim his job would be that much harder. Tem’s an alcoholic, does drugs, smokes at least a fifty a day, and even though he spends his entire working life thieving, he’d be lucky to have ten dollars in his pocket at anyone time. He also earns some of his money legitimately, as a police informer.

“I hear my brother Nate’s in town,”

“Yeah, came in on Saturday, down from the big smoke to see his country cousins.”

“What else is he here for?”

“This you or the job talking Sarge?”

“The job. What’s the skinny?”

“You got something for me, then?”

Joe slips the envelope out of his pocket containing the five hundred dollars he’s signed out of the slush fund at headquarters and passes it under the table. Tem holds it on his lap, feeling the thickness, nodding to himself.

“Story is, he’s down here to sort out some of the boys in the Scum and set up a big dope business at the old McLaren homestead at Dike Point. That’s all I’ve heard,” he pauses as though wondering whether to continue. “Must be hard to bear.”

Joe looks at him, his face frozen in anticipation of what is coming.

Tem looks uncomfortable, sips on his drink. “I mean, like you being what you are and him being..........” he tails off and sits there, picking loose tobacco off his lip.

“Don’t worry yourself about it. None of us can pick the family we’re born into. It’s a cross we all have to bear sometime. Don’t drink yourself unconscious with what I just gave you. Keep some of it for tomorrow, eh?”

He leaves and drives away from port, heading to his home to get as much sleep as he can before the early start facing him the next day.

By five the next morning, the police and customs men assemble at the staging area. There are police cars everywhere. They parked the Police HQ van next to the two Custom vans, and the ambulances wait further down the road with the big red fire brigade truck. It’s dark, with pinpricks of light from the waning moon sprinkling the tree lines like fire flies searching for a home. Joe briefs his squad one last time, and then they head off into the darkness of the bush, following the track that will lead them, uphill, to the target, ten shadowy figures, jogging quietly into the softness of the early morning.

When they arrive at the edge of the bush fronting the house, they stop and focus on the target. The front of the building is about thirty metres away, facing them, and this is code named white. The rear will be black and the sides, red for the right and green the left. Three of the squad will move towards the rear of the building, two each will cover the sides, and Joe and the other two will watch the building’s front.

There is a door at the rear and two windows, with other windows on each side, and at the front, the main entrance flanked by a window, left and right. The plan is to enfilade each window with a stun and gas grenade, and as people leave the building in panic and confusion, make the arrests. The squad has trained on these exercises repeatedly and has activated several kinds of raids with total success.

Everyone gets into position, and then they wait for daybreak. In this part of the country, this early in the year, it will come between five and five-thirty. They need the light to ensure that no one gets away in the confusion that will follow. Joe, standing at the tree line across from the building, talks to his team quietly into the headphone, making sure everyone is lined up and ready. He speaks to Inspector Ten Eyck who is manning the HQ van, bringing him up to date on the deployment and the status of the squad. Everything looks good, so far. As dawn breaks, Joe speaks into the headphone:

“All squad. Everything is go.”

The six stun grenades go in through the windows simultaneously, followed by the gas cannisters, the sounds bouncing around inside the house like thunder crackers going off inside a tin drum. The noise is deafening. Within thirty seconds, people pour out of the house, yelling, coughing and spluttering, completely disoriented, and are quickly brought under control by the squad. Most leave the front entrance and are soon stretched out prone on the damp grass, hands clasped behind their heads. They bring the ones who exit the back door around to join the rest, and PC Will Freeman starts a body count. Jenny Davies moves to the front of the property, ready to move inside on command, waiting for back-up. And then it all goes horribly wrong.

As she stands there, rifle at the port, there is a noise to her left and she turns, distracted, as a dog breaks away from that side of the house. At that moment, a man steps quickly out of the door entrance, stepping behind her, throwing an arm around her body, immobilizing her, and thrusting a huge, curved boning knife towards her throat. The man towers over her, a head and shoulders bigger, and she is completely helpless in his grasp.

“Back the fuck off, or this bitch is dead,” the man yells, and the squad freeze.

“I’m out of here, with her. You get in the way she’s gone.”

Joe Makoare raises his Bushmaster, squinting into the telescopic sight. He’s the best eye in the squad, but he’s shot no one, let alone killed them. He knows he has seconds to drop this man, otherwise he may well lose the only female AOS member the city has ever had.

They’ve practised for something like this, repeatedly, never expecting it will eventuate. He breathes out gently, hoping that Jenny has not frozen in fear, but then she sags, her body slumping as though she has fainted. The man is taken unaware and his knife arm swings away slightly just as Joe fires. The Bushmaster has almost no recoil and the 55 gram bullet crosses the open space to the target in a Nano second punching into the head, just above the bridge of the nose, the velocity and weight of the slug slapping the man back against the house front. Jenny tumbles away as the dead body crumples and slides down the wall, leaving a bright red smear behind it.

Jenny climbs to her feet as squad members surround her, and Joe broadcasts what has happened back to the HQ van. He looks for the spent cartridge, knowing it will be needed in the investigation that will follow, and then he walks slowly across the grass meadow to where some of his men cluster around the body, sprawled in an unsightly heap next to the front door of the house.

He stands there waiting for the inspector and the rest of the police team to arrive. They start to secure the prisoners, and the specialists move into the house to check for the evidence of the drug operation. Access to the house has to be through the rear door, as the front entrance is now a crime scene and will be handed over to members of the SOCO team who will come from the city headquarters. The scene of crime officers will treat the killing of this man as they would any other sudden and violent death, giving him the same rights and privileges as they would to someone dying by unnatural force.

When the Inspector arrives, Joe explains how it went down, and they move forward, standing, looking down on the corpse. Blood is covering the face, running down the scarred and twisted features.

“We’ll wait for the team to arrive and they can check him for ID,” Ten Eyck says.

“There’s no need for that.” The sergeant’s voice is flat and filled with the hopeless grief he feels.

“I can tell his mother he’d dead; that her son Joe killed his young brother, Nate.

And he’s found what he’s been looking for all these lost and lonely years.”

As Joe drives to his mother’s home later that day, all he could think to carry him through his nightmare is a Maori karakia, or prayer:

Kia hora te marino, Kia whakapapa pounamu te moana,

kia tere te karohirohi.

Ma lo koutou e manaaki, e tiaki, i nga wa katoa.

May calm spread around you

May the sea glisten like greenstone and the shimmer of summer dance along your path.

May your God bless you and protect you for all time.

©Thom L. Jones. 2021

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