Tuesday, January 31, 2012

Thank you, Sara, at Orion headless

The Baby's Name Is Kerry
by MaryAnne Kolton

Right now, balanced against the right front side of an APC, eyes focused on a curtained front window in a first floor apartment, Siobhan McEaney could feel the thrum of adrenaline in her gut.  She wiped the sweat from her face and leaned into her Sig Sauer 516 aimed at the window.  Some dumb ass, named Chris Stett, had barricaded himself in the apartment with his wife and child.
     Her unit attempted to pick him up on an outstanding warrant, prompted by an incident at a local bus stop two weeks ago.  Stett flashed a knife at a senior citizen and told her he’d cut her when she tried to board the bus before he did.  When they assembled this morning, a neighbor assured them he was in the apartment, but so were his wife and daughter. 
    It looked as if Joe Stickley, “Styx”, the soft-spoken negotiator, had finally gotten Stett to respond to the pleas that he let his wife and daughter come out.  It had taken more than two hours of loud hailer persuasion, but the door was easing open.  The woman slipped through, running toward them, screaming and waving her arms.
 “He’s got the baby!  He wouldn’t give her to me.  He’s still got the baby.”  She crumpled to the ground in front of Siobhan.  A local cop hustled the mother into the APC.

 “He said to tell you he’d slit her throat if you try to come in.”  The mother sobbed and clutched at the officer.  “Please do something!”
             The team leader fired questions at her, eyes screwed to her face as she answered.  “How old is your daughter?  Where is your husband in the house?  What kind of a knife does he have?  Does he have any guns in there?   Any one else beside the child with him?”  Once they established the location of the father – the right rear of the first floor living room, the ten-month-old child with him - and the fact that the wife had never seen any guns in the house, they began to forge a plan.
             The husband was off his meds and high on something, the mother wasn’t sure what, and second, there was a baby to consider.  The child’s presence meant no use of less lethal control tactics.  No gas, no pepper spray, no rubber bullets or beanbag rounds.  Chris Stett was not answering the phone.  So, for now, it was going to be up to Styx to keep trying to talk him out.
 Siobhan could hear Styx’s continued appeals to the man to come out, but her eyes remained glued on the front window.  She didn’t even bother to ask herself what kind of father holds his child hostage.  She knew the answer to that one.  But something was chafing at her.  She glanced for a millisecond at the entryway: roof over small concrete pad, closed front door.  At that same moment, she glimpsed movement at the window.
Styx had asked Stett to show them the baby, setting up the possibility of a one shot take down.  “Show us the baby, Chris.  We just want to make sure she’s okay.”
 Stett must have started to move the curtain aside then changed his mind.  The motion at the window ceased.
The negotiator went back at the father again.  He’d been trying to find some way to get to him for almost four hours now.  
“Chris, we’re not going anywhere.  This place is surrounded and you got no place to go.  That little girl is your daughter.  None of us want any harm to come to her.  You know you love her, so lay the baby on the floor and come on out the front door.  No one will hurt you.  I can promise you that.”
 Six minutes passed.  Siobhan was half expecting the command to enter the house and take the guy down.
Without preamble, the front door flew open.  Chris Stett was standing just inside, an idiotic grin on his face.  His left hand grasped his daughter’s waist.  He held her upright in front of his chest.  She was crying, arms and legs moving all over the place, wearing only a diaper.  
The father adjusted the child in his arm.  With no time to react, Siobhan and the rest of the team watched him snatch a gun from the back of her diaper, raise it to the right side of his head and pull the trigger. 
She did not breathe as she watched the baby fall, head first, from Chris Stett’s arm toward the concrete.

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