With A Side Of…

By Anthony Lukas


O’Brian settled a little more into the driver’s seat, and silently cursed the higher-up who thought teaming him with a patrol rookie was a good idea.  O’Brian hated rookies, he having been one too long ago for him to remember the experience.  “Come now, Sergeant O’Brian,” the Captain had said with a sly grin, “would you deny a young, eager mind the benefit of all your long years of experience?” with a little unnecessary emphasis on ‘long’ and ‘years,’ thought O’Brian.

He glanced in the rear view mirror of the patrol car at white hair, a few wrinkles hither and yon on a craggy face.  He sighed.  Perhaps the years had gotten long.

“Okay, Sarge?” 

“Sure, sure,” said O’Brian.  “Just getting a little impatient, I guess.”

Jones nodded.  “Know what you mean.”

Like hell you do, thought O’Brian.  You know nothing.   Well, next to nothing.  Jones was near the top of her academy class and some of her instructors that O’Brian knew had spoken highly of her.  And she had come from a working class family, worked her way through school.  And she didn’t talk a lot, thank god.  Could have been a lot worse, he reflected.  And maybe he should be passing on his experience before he packed it in.  He‘d been giving more than semi-serious thought to retiring lately.  World getting a little too much for him lately.  Getting kinda too weird.  Maybe was time to retire to his cabin at the river.

“Shouldn’t be much longer,” said O’Brian.  He had watched the undercover enter the grocery store at the corner and leave after a few minutes just as she had on the several other nights he had been on the operation.  “Need the preliminary lab report before we can move in.”

“Sure,” said Jones.  “They have to take the buy all the way back to the crime lab?”

“Nope, they’ve got a testing rig in the van a couple of blocks down.  Doesn’t take that long for prelim results.”

Jones nodded her head and sipped from her cup.  Not honest to god coffee like cops have been drinking on stakeouts since the beginning of time, thought O’Brian.  Some health concoction.  The young cops now days.

“How many buys has she made?” asked Jones.

“This is the third.”

“How’d we catch on to this place?” Jones asked, nodding at the high-end grocery store across the street.  Very high end wines, beers, liquors and foods catering to the upper crust.  Nothing like the corner grocery store of his day, to run in for a soda and a bag of chips.  Just very expensive and exotic foods here.  And it was some of that ‘exotic’ stuff that had caused O’Brian and his team to be here.

“Some high society college dimwit was low level dealing pills to his college friends, got tagged and offered this place as part of a walk away deal.  He took our undercover in and introduced her to the owners, did a couple of drug buys with her and one exotic buy, then she was able to do buys on her own.”  O’Brian shook his head.

“What?  Don’t like the kid getting off?”

“I don’t give a rodent’s behind what happens to him.  It’s that I always got the feeling he was slimming on the information on this place, not telling us something.”  He shrugged.  “Guess we’ll find out soon enough.”

They waited silently for a bit.  “What did she buy the last time?”

“Cheetah, I think. Or snow leopard.  Don’t remember which.”

Now Jones shook her head.  “I don’t get this whole thing.  This stuff is hellah expensive.  What’s the thrill of eating meat from an endangered species?”

Time to impart some experience, thought O’Brian.  “Started about a decade ago.  At first it was treating other meats with additives so that they tasted like the exotics, but that just wasn’t enough some of the “job creator” class, their appetites were whetted for the real thing. So now we have this black market in endangered species meats.”  He shook his head again. “The rich are damned fools. Always looking for

“Team One, we have a positive,” said O’Brian’s radio.

“All right, Lab.  All teams to entry positions.  Entry on my mark.”  To Jones, “Show time. 
Across the street, then along the building line.”

They exited their car, crossed the street and went along the front of buildings toward the front door of the store.  He let her get ahead with her young legs.  He could see two other detectives had come around the corner and were holding just to the side of the store’s double doors.  He knew that another detective and a couple of uniforms would be at the back door.

He paused behind Jones, checked on his radio that everyone was in position, then said, “Entry on ten from now.” He nodded at Jones and they walked along the front of the store and at the ten count he held back as the others burst through shouting, “Police! Freeze!”  The guy behind the counter did just that.  The other detectives swept the store and back room, bringing out another guy from the back and opening the back door for the other detective and the uniforms.

O’Brian announced that they had a search warrant, left the two store guys in the charge of a uniforms while he, Jones and a detective with a video camera headed for the back.  “We’ll grill those two later and move up the food chain to their source,” said O‘Brian, “no pun intended.”

In back they found a walk-in refrigerator filled with various and sundry perishable foods and in the back on a bottom shelf they found large plastic boxes. Inside one were bags of pills of various shapes and colors.  Next to that were a couple of boxes filled with clear plastic vacuum packed packages of various meats, each labeled in “Latin?” asked Jones.

“Oh, yes,” said O’Brian, “we’re dealing with real high class folk here.  Using the scientific names adds a little cache.  What we got?”

Diceros bicornis,” read Jones.

“Black rhino,” said O’Brian, translating for the video.

Haliaeetus leucocephalus.”

“American bald eagle. Now that‘s just downright unpatriot,”  tsked O‘Brian.  “What’s that one?”

Gorilla beringei beringei, ”  read Jones.

“Mountain Gorilla,” said O’Brian.  “Eating a little close to home there.”

As Jones picked through the bin, sorting the packages, O’Brian idly picked a package from the other bin.  He peered at the label.  “Can’t read that without my glasses.  What’s that, an ‘h?”

Jones turned to look.  “Yeah, an ‘h,” she said, then did a double take and stared at the package.  “Jesus,” she said,  “It says ‘homo sapiens’.” 

It took a moment for O’Brian to get it.  Then he did and he stared at the pink meat in the package and thought that the cabin on the river was looking really good about now.

Anthony Lukas is a former attorney and former deputy district attorney. For the past 18 years he has owned and operated a chocolate shop. He began writing stories about two years ago. In July, 2013 omdb! published Death of Mr. Putnam and in April, 2014 published  The Old Damned Fool.

The author has also been published in Bewildering Stories.

Copyright 2014 Anthony Lukas. All rights reserved. Reproduction in whole or in part in any form or medium without express written permission of the author is prohibited. OMDB! and OMDB! logos are trademarks of Over My Dead Body!

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