Don Yarber Don Yarber
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hunched over the handle bars

Don Yarber Don Yarber
Recommendations: 42

attempts to break the ice

Don Yarber Don Yarber
Recommendations: 42

over drainage and boulders, disappearing...

Don Yarber Don Yarber
Recommendations: 42

I think a better title would be "Malfunction" misdemeanor means an offense less serious than a felony. Malfunction means that something did not function properly. What do you think?

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Bill O. farmer Bill O. farmer
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She had a friend.

There are cops and there are more cops. Good, bad. Corrupt, trusted, crooks and villains dispensing the law. James Okudi joined the force. As a kid he loved them smart and in control. Growing up he knew he would one day serve as an officer and officer he became.

When the time came for boot camp, he thought it was a picnic. There they did everything to break your spirit, hardened you so you came out as this no nonsense character to uphold the law and serve the citizenry. It’s not long before James realized life as a police officer was not going to be as rosy as he thought it would turn out to be.

You had to be on the look out for bad cops. These ones were a bad influence to you. These types could take a bribe at a drop of a hat. Taking a bribe meant you were sending an innocent person to jail or you let a dangerous criminal according to the law walk free. The bad cops could get you killed; you had to look over your shoulder to ensure you were safe all the time.

If you had a relation in the top echelons of the force, your journey up was easy and fast. Your transfers were to locations where the money was, not some dump in the arid areas of Karamoja where lawlessness ruled day and night and gun/home ratio was five to one.

Being a cop, you found yourself unwittingly in numerous circumstances good and bad, humorous and bitter. One day, way out in the eastern part of the country, Okudi was at the post manning the counter. It was hot and stuffy and boring. The sun tipping for 2:30pm and there hadn’t been an incident the entire day. Drowsy with sleep, Okudi is jolted into alertness by shouting. It was faint and he had to go look see.

A crowd had gathered yodeling itself hoarse. From the distance it seemed to come towards the post. Suddenly it veered off like a whirl wind and started moving in the other direction. Sticks kept swinging through the air at something. Kicks and punches thrown. Perplexed Okudi, scratched his beard and watched.

A lone rider, came peddling up the road towards him.
“What goes down yonder?” Okudi asked.
“A thief is getting the beating of his life,” the rider responded hunched over the handle bars as he rode up hill.
“What has he stolen?”
“Dunno,” the elderly man shrugged and continued. “I didn’t stick around much to find out, but I hear something about a sheep.”
“Oh.” Okudi watches the elderly man bend over his handle bars with each exertion up the hill. He turned his attention to the crowd that was now about a kilometer away.
He cursed under his breath for this sort of incident that comes up on a hot cloudless sky afternoon when a man should be cooling off under some shade and not be bothered with issues of lawlessness. 1 comment

Wiping sweat off a brow, Okudi walked to the uni-port; an all iron sheet oven for an office with bare earth for the floor. It had a lone table with parking of soda caps underneath one leg for stability, a spread of papers, an ink pot and pad for the locals to sign with their finger or thumb prints. Stepping to the camouflage jacket hanging on a hook behind the desk, Okudi retrieves an Ak-47 rifle bearing 24 rounds. He unclipped the magazine and checked to confirm the cartridges were there. He pulled the cocking mechanism back twice to ensure it was empty before loading the magazine back into place.

“Hey, am stepping out there,” Okudi tells a junior officer out under a tree rocking his chair on its two hind legs. “There is a guy getting beat up down the road. I have to go see before they beat the daylights out of him.”
“They mobbing him?”
“That’s the story and it is what I perceived.”
“You going to need back up?” The junior asks rising.
“No. you sit tight here. Be right back.”
Wrong. Every cop on assignment requires back up.

Okudi trotted down the dirt road, the weapon held down by his side. “How is the man they have caught?” he asked a group of youth going in the opposite direction.
“Ha, they still working on him,” one youth replies.
“I know that guy, like I told you,” one youth is telling his friends. “He is a hardened criminal; they are tired of him around here.”
“Today he is having it,” another replies.

Okudi trots on without slowing. He is neither fast nor slow. By the time he got to the bottom of the valley, sweat was trickling down his spine and beads were forming on his forehead. Up ahead the crowd was rowdy and mean. Passersby stood gaping as sticks were wielded menacingly. A man hefted a block lifting it high above his head and jumped over a ditch onto the road. Okudi could only surmise what that block was for. He’d seen a head or two bashed in with blocks and bricks and large jagged rocks at that. Not that the victim bashed his head out of a fall or accident but a summary killing. Mob justice!

The more Okudi drew closer the more slowed he became. He was entering dangerous territory.
“A policeman has arrived!” some one shouted.
“Screw the police!” Okudi hears another shout. Everybody is talking at once its worse than a market. Worse because here, anger was the gust of oxygen fanning the flames.

Okudi shifted the gun from one hand to the other and back nervously. “Everybody stand back!” He commands.

Within the force, a command is a command. When dealing with a crowd it is something else. It’s like Okudi had shouted freeze everyone! They stopped, the hubbub dying down some. They all turned to look at him with this animalistic instinct to protect their kill. The only thing missing was the deep guttural growl. Okudi halted. The crowd leers at him. He stares back. There is silence. The crowd parts forming a wall, blocking the road. Its six men deep, Sniffing the air, like they are discovering a new prey with the change in wind direction.

“Am here to take him in.” Okudi attempts to break the ice.
“Only to let him loose again,” a man hiding behind a scraggly beard declares. The men exchanging glances, nodding their heads in agreement. Sweat glistens on darkened skins due to exposure to the afternoon heat. 1 comment

“Everybody stand back,” Okudi repeats his command. He lifts the gun skyward in his right hand and jerks down the chambering mechanism in a flawless effort, he is surprised. There is a tremor in his hands albeit slight.

The men at the front exchange glances and turn back to him silent. No one moves. It’s disconcerting. 1 comment

“So you are going to gun us down?” A man to the far left asks.
“There are not enough rounds to finish us all.” This is from the extreme right.

To Okudi, this is not good. He would need to keep focused.  A bulky man steps forward. Huge, six feet seven inches and built like an ox. It’s a wonder the victim was still alive. That is if he is still alive anyway.

“Why don’t you go back to your rickety post and leave us to our business?” Ox asks one hand raise behind him to silence the crowd.

“Your present business is against the law,” Okudi replies maintaining eye contact.

“Be careful! That cop might crazy!” someone shouts as a few people try to edge away from directly behind Ox. A 7.62 mm round from a Kalashnikov can go three deep into a crowd with serious consequences.

Ox grins, yellowed teeth behind a sweaty black face. Okudi just wishes this man before him could just go away. He tries a quick calculation to see if the man is high on some weed or spirit and can’t get a confirmatory assessment. There is a murmuring from the crowd.

“Kindly step aside.” Okudi stands his ground. Inwardly he says; “Go away. Just go away.”

“Mistaking the request for fear, Ox grins more and starts to chuckle.
Gripping the pistol grip harder in a sweaty palm, Okudi, pushes the safe catch from rapid fire to single and pulls the trigger. There is a harmless click! So loud it’s like a punch to his solar plexus. He breaks into a sweat now for real. He eases his index finger off the trigger and steals a glance at the weapon. A lot of things run through his head; did he pull down the loading meachanism far enough or… The oiling? Did someone tamper with the weapon?

He tries one more time curling the index over the trigger and gently … Nothing! This can’t be happening!

Catapulting into action, Okudi leaps two steps back and racks back the cocking mechanism twice. Two unspent rounds cartwheel through the air to the dirt. The crowd which has encircled him in a cow horn formation disperses at the horns in disarray at the sudden turn of events. Women scream. Kids scamper. Men leap over the drainage and boulders disappearing behind trees and nearby houses. 1 comment

Ox is rooted to his spot in confusion. The people behind him are equally stuck holding on to each other for dear life they can’t flee.

Sweat stinging his eyes, Okudi points the gun over their heads and pulls the trigger… CLICK!

Time slows down. Okudi is crouching over the gun in dismay. He was a lame duck. The crowd is blinking is disbelief they are still alive. Ox, Ox is waking up from a nightmare, but he does so with a hideous chuckle at his luck. He is still confused. Looking from the gun pointed at him now to the cop holding it and back to the gun.

“The gun has JAMMED!” Someone yodels from Okudi’s right.
“The gun has JAMMED! It’s not working!”

Ox licks his lips looking at the man shouting about the gun and then back at the policeman and the gun.

“Let’s get him!” A frightened man, his colleague’s shirt gathered in his fists shouts from behind OX.

“What?” Ox attempts to look behind him in more confusion.

“Get him, the gun is not working!”
“Grab him!”
“Disarm him!”
“Beat him!”

Someone leaps forward from behind Ox and shoves him. Ox galvanized into motion ploughs forward, suddenly energized and fearless.
Okudi back peddles, turns and flees.

“Catch him!”
“Don’t let him get away!”

The crowd follows in hot pursuit, the women are screaming in ecstasy. Kids are shouting at the top of their lungs. Like a giant snake slithering back down the valley, dust in its wake, Okudi led the mob.

A thought struck him to get the gun active. He started running from one side of the dirt road to the other keeping his eyes in the ditches on either side. It cost him ground but it was worth a try. At the bottom of the valley, he saw the pool of water, just what he was looking for. He flung the gun ahead of him into it. Jumping in he slid slamming himself against the embankments. Okudi snatched the gun out of the water on the go. Leaping up and out from side to side along the ditch he got back on the road and tore up the hill. The stragglers kept pace behind him. Holding the gun before him, he tried the trigger one more time. CLICK! Oh no!

The baying from the crowd got the junior officer to the road. He disappeared and reappeared carrying a Short Machine Gun, racking the loading mechanism, he ran down the road to meet his senior officer.

“Rowdy crowd?”
“Hellish!” Okudi panted running past him. “Just … just…make sure…that weapon…

A round rent the air with a bang bringing the crowd to a stop. Another two in the air and the mob parted like the high waters of the Red Sea during the Isreali crossing. The road cleared as far as the valley.

“Sir, the crowd is contained.”
“Give me a break,” Okudi waves off the junior officer. He is sitting under the tree, an elbow on one knee, the palm of the other hand on the other knee. “It was a misdemeanor. The gun jammed.” 1 comment

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