This is a rewrite of an event I was involved in many years ago.
Sunday, three A.M. a full moon illuminates a forest alive with night creatures. Their eyes aglow as if in wonderment as our emergency beacons pierced their world. Only the sounds of our engine broke the silence as we raced through the night. No need for the siren. We were ten miles from the nearest major road, fifteen from any community and hadn’t seen another vehicle since leaving the hospital garage.
My partner, a trainee, scanned the road ahead for a sign of our contact while I wondered what we were rushing into. Our only information was a call received by the dispatcher requesting an ambulance to an isolated rural area. The caller did not reveal the nature of the emergency and his location directions were vague. He said someone would meet us on the main highway. That made me nervous! I decided to radio the dispatcher for police assist. Unfortunately for us, that meant a town constable at home in bed twenty miles away. On the plus side, the dispatcher at the time was my wife. As she still liked me back then, she decided to request assistance from the Sheriff’s office and two other police departments from adjacent jurisdictions.
Suddenly, headlights flashed in front of us. A large, dark car pulled out from the shoulder of the road, its driver waving frantically as he turned onto a narrow, gravel township road forming a dust cloud between us.
Maintaining a safe distance back, we followed the dust cloud at a slower speed allowing my partner time to note any landmarks he could radio to the dispatcher.
Abruptly, the dust dissipated revealing the dark car with its mysterious driver stopped next to an open grassy area. A dirt drive wound its way up to what appeared to be an old basement dwelling set good eighty yards from the main road. We stopped a few feet behind him. As I exited our rig in an attempt to approach and question the driver he silently pointed toward the dwelling then sped off down the gravel road.
My attention turned to the house. It was built on a low knoll, had large front windows and, thankfully, was well lit both inside and out.
“Something is missing!” I whispered. “No vehicles, people, dogs or movement.”
Slowly we inched our way up the drive. When almost parallel to the dwelling, it made a sharp right to an exterior wood frame, enclosed stairway atop the knoll. There, in the glare of our floodlights lay the body of a woman. Dressed in a blood-stained, pale green nightgown, her head turned away from us; she appeared to be sleeping, but it was an illusion. An obvious gunshot entry wound to the back of her head told a different story.
Immediately, my instincts and training took control.
“Shut off all our lights, give me the radio and get your ass out of this rig now!” I yelled to my partner. “Hide in the woods beyond the tree line!” Next thing I knew he was running fast and low towards a large pine tree.
I radioed the dispatcher, “We have a D.O.A with G.S.W.! We need help fast!” *
Now, what do I do? Sitting in a darkened ambulance, on a small rise next to an illuminated earth home, I was a sitting duck. If the shooter was still there, one well-aimed bullet could have hit me or the large oxygen tank and I am history.
What if there are more victims inside? What if they are still alive? Call it brave or insane; I had to know. It was my job to save lives.
Flashlight in hand, I made my way through the shadows to the stairwell. Standing to one side, I held it high above my head to disguise my position and exact size as I peered through the door. Looking down inside, I saw a single, bare bulb ceiling light, a child’s bicycle in a corner and a second body at the foot of the stairs. As the woman’s, it was face down in a pool of dark, clotted blood. It was a man with a gunshot exit wound in the back of his head.
The bicycle – is there a child here?
Against all policy, I descended the stairs, stepped over the man’s body and entered the living room to a scene of rage and anger. Furniture overturned, appliances were broken, dishes shattered and personal items everywhere but no child.
Cautiously I searched the remaining rooms. I saw a lifestyle of modest income and means but no child or other bodies. I was relieved.
Retracing my path, I exited the house to call in what I’d seen. As I reached the radio to give the dispatcher update, the dark car returned. As if in slow motion, it appeared on the gravel road and turned onto the grassy area in front of the dwelling.
Cutting my report short, I waited and watched. The car stopped, and the headlights went dark. The only light was from the house and beautiful, setting full moon.
I could hear the radio in the ambulance as the dispatcher is telling me the closest police unit it still fifteen minutes from our location.
Estimating the distance from my position to the car at forty yards, I realized I did not have many options.
I saw one person, the driver sitting behind the wheel staring at the house seemingly ignoring me.
Was this a neighbor, friend, relative, curiosity seeker or…?
I had to know! I could not be out here in the middle of the wilderness trapped by my fears.
Heart in throat, I walked to the car while keeping my flashlight trained directly on his face. I got within ten feet when he suddenly turned on the interior dome light and looked at me. He was young, late teens, early twenties, long black hair, average size and scruffy appearing. He had a strange, peaceful look on his face, a calm as though his burdens were gone.
As I attempted to talk to him, I visually searched the interior of the car with my flashlight. He had no less than eight guns and what appeared to be hundreds of rounds of ammunition scattered over the seats.
He asked me, “Are they dead?”
I believe so.” I replied.
“Good!” he yelled as he slammed his foot onto the gas pedal and sped through the grass to disappear down the gravel road.
There was a return to silence as a soft glow in the east announce\d the rising of the sun.
It was going to be a beautiful Mother’s Day – for most.
G.S.W. = Gunshot Wound
D.O.A. = Dead on arrival