No More Bull Exerpt

Grabbing the flashlight from the saddle bag, Gil took a deep breath and moved toward the construction trail.  Bending over and moving as quietly as he could he walked slowly beside the road, picking his footing carefully.    As he neared the top of the slight hill he had driven over that morning, Gil got down on his hands and knees.  He didn’t want to show his silhouette against the moonlit sky.

About then he heard a whinny.  It wasn’t his horse, Sue. This came from the other side of the hole.  Sue answered and Gil got up and sprinted back toward the horse and donkey to shut them up.  He grabbed Sue’s reins just as the first horse whinnied again and then Gil heard a boom followed by a whoosh. Sue spooked and drug Gil about a hundred feet before he could get the big bay under control enough to look back at what had happened.

Flames were shooting high in the air. Another tree was close by and this time he did tie the reins. He ran to the top of the hill. Flames jumped out of the hole fifty or sixty feet in the air. In the light he could see a sheriff’s patrol car sitting too damned close to the flames.  A body lay on the ground beside an open door– not ten feet from the flames.  Without even considering the consequences Gil dropped the flashlight and ran as hard as he could toward the body.  It got awfully hot as he got closer.  He ducked down on the far side of the car from the flames – and the body.  He tried to stand up to move around the car, but the heat drove him back.

Opening the car door near him, he scooted over the console and across the seat on his belly.  Because of the angle of the car he was somewhat protected by the back of the seat.  He could look down on the body.  It was a deputy sheriff.  There was no movement – no signs of life. The car was heating up like an oven.  There was no decision to make. He saw a bottle of water sitting on the passenger-side floorboard.  It gave him a chill when he poured it all over his shirt front and sleeves.  He pulled the bill of his cap down on his forehead, screwed it down tight and took a deep breath that caused him to gag and cough. 

Holding his breath, he rolled out, elbowed the door closed, grabbed the body by the feet and dragged it around the front end.  He kept his head down, letting the bill of his cap protect him as much as it could.  Once around the car he let out his breath and tried to take just small gulps. The heat forced him to keep his eyes closed.  He smelled burning hair but didn’t know if it was the deputies or his mustache.  He opened his eyes. Through the slight misty steam rising from his shirt he picked an angle that kept the car between him and the fire and kept on going.  The poor guy’s face was dragging in the dirt as his head bounced off the ground.

When they got about a hundred feet away Gil stopped.  He felt for a pulse.  Thank God there was one.  He collapsed on the ground beside the body.  The flames were mostly down in the hole now.  There was motion on the horizon.  He wasn’t sure, but he thought he saw a horse and rider head over the ridge to the east. 

He sat there quite a while trying to figure things out before he realized he needed to do something for the deputy.  He got up and checked the pulse again.  It was fine.  He needed to turn the fellow on his back.  He knew he wasn’t supposed to move an injured person, but he’d probably done as much damage as he could while dragging the guy.  He turned him over and raised an eye lid.  Nothing but white.  The guy was out cold.  There was only one thing to do.
He reluctantly went to the patrol car.  The heat from the flame was barely noticeable and there didn’t seem to be any worry of the car exploding.  He reached in for the mike and keyed it.  It chirped.

He said, “Dispatch?” 

After some static there was a reply. “This is dispatch.”

“This is Dr. Gil Tailor.  I’m at the site of the buried trailer at Rough Mountain Ranches.  There’s been a fire.  An officer’s down.”

“How was he injured?”

“Not sure.”

A calm voice asked, “Are you alright, Dr.?”


“Please hold.” There was a lengthy pause then the dispatcher came back.  “We have an ambulance and additional officers on the way.  If you’re not in any danger, you stay put Dr. Tailor.”

Gil didn’t bother to reply.  He went to gather his horse and donkey.

By the time he got back he could hear sirens. Flashing lights were reflecting off the few clouds that were in the sky.  He checked the pulse of the deputy. It was steady, but he was still out.

Tying Sue to the backhoe, he loosened the cinch and gave his two companions each a biscuit.  He collapsed on the dirt pile he’d sat on that morning.  It had been a very long day, and there was more to come.  He got back up and took the last beer out of the saddle bag then plopped back down. Fuck it.  It’s going to get bad.

 It started worse than he’d imagined and went downhill from there.  He was only halfway through his beer when three sheriff’s SUVs and an ambulance flew over the hill almost simultaneously.  Following were two patrol cars. The SUVs split up and circled the hole.  The patrol cars completed a circle. All had their lights shining on Gil. The medics must have spotted the deputy’s body, because they drove straight to it, but stayed in their vehicle.

Officers jumped out of the sheriff’s rigs with guns drawn, keeping themselves concealed behind their car doors.

A bullhorn bellowed, “Put your hands in the air.”  It was the damned DeputyJarmillo.

Gil did so, still holding the beer.

“Put the damned beer down.”

He did so, carefully.

“I want you to turn over on your belly and spread your arms.”

Gil said, “Is this absolutely necessary.”

If Jarmillo heard him he didn’t acknowledge, he repeated his order.

Gil did as he was told.

The three officers came at him quickly – one on each side and Jarmillo from the rear.  The deputy dropped a knee into the middle of his back, knocking the breath out of him.  His arms were grabbed, twisted behind his back and handcuffed.
Deputy Jarmillo got up, yanked him to his feet by the handcuffs and quick-marched him over to an older patrol car.

“I’ve had about as much out of you as I’m going to take,” Jarmillo hissed in his ear before shoving him in the back seat face down.

The floor rugs were stained, probably where some drunk threw up.  The seat was torn and little pieces of foam rubber were crawling over the edge.  The car smelled of stale booze, puke, old donuts, burned oil, coffee and cigarettes.  Gil loved it.  It reminded him of the sheriff’s car his dad drove.

His dad would be proud of him now.


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