1. “Shit, it could happen to any of us.” - Sullivan



"Ok, what we got?" Shannon nodded to Daniels.


“Andrew Shaw,” Daniels began, “57, three shots to the chest.”


“Detective.” Sullivan interrupted. “Detective Shaw. Andy.”


“...he gets out of his vehicle, the black Sedan. Approaches the driver of the other vehicle behind. Looks like a minor shunt…”


“Works at the one-seven,” Sullivan interrupted again. 


“Excuse me?”


“Did seven years in uniform, three with me, before working robbery-homicide for the next twenty.” Sullivan spat on the road, wiping his mouth with his sleeve. “Someone does this. Fucking prick.”


“You knew him detective?”


Sullivan flashed a glare at Daniels. 


“Nooo, I just have these special powers from when I was a kid. I don’t know, I just walk up to a body and know who they are. The fuck did I just say? Worked three years with him.”


A siren signalled the arrival of another riot van. 


A dozen officers, head to toe in riot gear, streamed out from the back, joining the fragile line of first-on-scene uniforms. 


Numbers were growing. 


A dead detective. 


Sullivan looked over at the two cars left abandoned at the lights, frowning. He shoved both hands into his pockets and nestled his chin into the warmth of his coat, not bothering to look up.


“The other driver, the shooter, we have a name yet?” Shannon asked.


“Car’s registered to a Martin Lingwood. Lives over in West; one of those new apartment blocks near the ports. We’re checking family, occupation. No priors.”


“What, and he chooses today to flip out and shoot a cop? Fuck’s that?” Sullivan looked at Shannon.


“Could be stolen?” Shannon added.


“Description matches social media accounts.” Daniels confirmed, “Store owner across the street gave the clearest version. He was prepping the store when he hears screeching and revving outside. He hears a crash, comes out, sees Shaw still in his vehicle with Lingwood already out at this point; animated.”


“Angry?” Shannon asked.


“No, that’s not the way he put it. More on edge, wired.”


“High?” Sullivan suggested to Shannon.


“Maybe.” She shrugged.


“Lingwood starts ranting and raving, nothing our store owner could make sense of. Shaw leaves his vehicle, tries to calm the situation down, apologetic tone and so forth – the shop owner didn’t mention seeing the weapon at this point – Lingwood keeps going, now borderline hysterical. Shaw reaches inside his jacket, obviously to take out his ID - that’s when Lingwood pulls a gun and shoots. He hits Shaw with three shots to the chest. Walks toward the detective, picks up the ID, starts screaming and fires three more shots, this time into the side of his vehicle.”


“Other witnesses?” Shannon asked.


“Anyone still coherent corroborates the account. Unsure of the specific cause of collision but one woman, Sugar Mae, says Lingwood brakes too late, slides on the wet surface and shunts into the back of the Shaw, bang.”


“Sugar Mae?” Sullivan squinted at Daniels.


“Yeah, Sugar’s known to us,” she smiled, “very informative - a few bad habits.” Daniels nodded behind them. Sullivan looked back.


A couple of uniforms were still taking statements, talking to the nearby residents, handing out coffee. Among them was an athletic, sinewy, six-footer - with dark brown skin and platinum blonde hair hanging just below her exposed shoulder blades. She wore a sparkling red, skin-tight one-piece - two sizes too small.


“Woman? Yeah.” Sullivan snorted.


"Anyone with him?” Shannon prompted, staring over at the bullet holes in the chassis of Lingwood’s car.


“Not that anyone noticed. I don't know, maybe realising he shot a cop he freaks out and panics. Maybe he was trying to hit the Store Owner?”


“We’ll start there then." Sullivan rolled his eyes.


“You ever get sick of being an asshole Sully?” Daniels snapped. 


“You a detective now?” Sullivan snapped back.


“Lingwood’s description?” Shannon intervened.


Daniels said nothing, holding Sullivan’s stare.


“Come on, I have all day with him." Shannon added trying to smile.


“Mid-forties. Five nine/ten. Light hair, slim build, dark suit, open collar blue shirt.”


“Send a profile pic over from his social media, then maybe check with Sugar, she might have something more to share sober.”


Daniels gave Sullivan the side-eye as she walked past.


A glass smashed behind the police line, prompting the riot squad to push back hard.


"Come on, let's get back to the car. Maybe it'll calm down."


"Yeah," Sullivan said. "This'll simmer down any second now."



*** 



Blue lights flickered shadows like a spinning zoetrope. Projectiles bounced off riot vans - the reason for the crowd gathering lost.


There was just an excuse to do it. 


Sullivan shuffled in his seat.


“What is it?” Shannon asked.


“Off duty,” he sighed; coffee breath landing as condensation on the windscreen. “One morning a car goes into the back of him, driver flips, pulls a gun and shoots. Thirty years…” Sullivan shook his head. “Shit, it could happen to any of us…”


He spotted Daniels running into the crowd.


“There she is; Joan of fucking Arc. Here two minutes, telling me about my crime scene.” 


A brick landed in front of the car, its corner exploding into red dust. 


"I tell you now, one scratch on my car and they're gonna need more than a few vans to pull me off the fucker that did it."


Sullivan looked back to Daniels who was at the near end of the line wrestling with one of the rioters – all neck and shoulders. She matched his bulk with speed and ferocity; relentlessly shifting her weight back and forth, pushing him back.


Shards of glass rained down over the payment, glittering as they bounced off the ground. Daniels stumbled back, cradling the right side of her face, blood flowing from above her eye. Sensing the weakness in the line, some of the crowd began to seep through.


“Son of a bitch.” Sullivan erupted out the car. 


On seeing the blood, Daniels quickly regained her footing and charged back to her position in the line; using her elbows and shoulders to mend the hole that had opened.


Sullivan burst past her, making a beeline for the heavy-set rioter. He reached through jostling bodies and grabbed him, pressing his face into his.


Five eight, all skin and bone, Sullivan didn’t look much, but he stuck his slightly overgrown nails into the skin around the rioter’s throat and grabbed a tuft of hair around the back of his head with the other hand. The rioter could only flail and wave his arms in the air, trying in vain to grab something that would help him get away.


“Fucking son-of-a-bitch.” Sullivan spat through gritted teeth. 


“It wasn’t me. I swear to Christ, it wasn’t me.”


Knocking him off balance, Sullivan dragged the rioter over the line and inside the cordon. The momentum caused the rioter’s ankle to fold over. Like a rabid dog, Sullivan jumped on top of the rioter’s chest, pushing his head into the asphalt, grabbing his throat. 


“You fuck…”


An arm separated them. Sullivan didn’t notice at first, only realising when he was physically being pulled away.


“Arrest him or let him go.” Shannon whispered into his ear. 


More projectiles crashed off the vans and road as more units arrived. 


Sullivan pushed the rioter into the ground one last time as he stood up. 


Barely able to hear anything over the pulse in his ears, he turned in a circle, watching the mess unfold around him.


Eyes darting from one person to the next. 


"You see anything?" He ran into the crowd. "You see what happened here? You know him? Where he is?" 


“Sull. Sully!” he was just out of arm’s reach, Shannon pushed her way through, eventually getting close enough to grab a handful of her partner’s coat. “Sully. What you doing?”


“…Central to all units, sighting of suspect matching description of North Dockside gunman…shots fired on Seventeenth, South Dockside Quay.” 


The operator hadn’t finished the call when Sullivan ran to the car, leaving Shannon to deal with the break in the line he'd just caused. 


No time to wait. No time to think. 


Thirty years over in a second.



***



The Quay separated North and South Dockside. A fifteen-foot high brick wall stretched around the district as if a cocoon were cutting off most of the roads in or out. Only a series of cuts and alleyways allowed access.


The other side of the entrance was a mixture of decaying workhouses and open space that split the Docklands down the middle. It was mostly caged off by wire fencing set in concrete blocks. 


When he reached the Quay, Sullivan slowed down, looking for any sign of the shooter or the other unit. He rolled closer to the parade that ran alongside the River.


It was silent. No-one in sight.


Sullivan stopped the car, immediately drawing his weapon. 


He ran down the entrance to the Quay, looking along the short stretch of parade that lay ahead. It narrowed until it became nothing more than a dark pathway running parallel to the River; the right-hand side enclosed with thick bushes and small trees with a small wall running underneath 


To the left was the River; oily blackness, darker than the sky. 


Old shipyard cranes arched over the water, obscuring the fading image of the moon. Short, three-foot, black posts stood six feet apart along the edge. Each one connected to the other by long thick, draping chains, acting as a barrier between the pathway and the river.


He held his gun low and ran down the walkway.


It was the perfect place to run, an isolated network of walkways and cuts with no roads. Any backup would have to come through the old industrial ground that split the Docklands, only the helicopter could provide any sort of meaningful support.


Some gulls swooped overhead, shrieking as they flew over.


He stopped halfway down the parade; out of breath, his shirt sticking to his back. 


He could hear sirens in the distance as well as the faint sound of a helicopter slicing through the air. 


The parade led to a quadrangle, lit by a single, faint orange streetlight, barely enough to light the area. 


He ran to the centre of the quad. 


Something moved behind him, Sullivan spun. 


Gun pointed directly at him, already rising to his feet, Lingwood was there. Sullivan tried to take aim, but he knew he was too late. Lingwood had already pulled the trigger. He saw the flash at the end of the barrel...


...by the time he registered the two shots he was on the ground with Shannon lying next to him, arm extended, gun drawn. Sullivan didn’t have time to think, instinctively spinning around on the floor, pointing his gun in the direction of the shooter. 


Lingwood was already falling to his knees, a single, pinpoint gunshot wound to the centre of his head. Sullivan maintained his aim, trying to figure out what had happened. He turned to look at Shannon, who had lowered her weapon.


“Where the fuck did you come from?”  


Sullivan patted himself down, half expecting to find a wound or injury. 

 

Shannon walked over to the body. 


Four officers came running up the quay and three further uniforms came through the cuts leading from Dockside South.


“What the fuck were you doing?” Shannon said turning to Sullivan.


Sullivan shuffled on the ground and shook his head. 


“Shaw, he put the same amount of time in as me. Me, you, anyone, just like that it’s finished, over. All that...for nothing. It could happen to any of us…”



***



With heavy eyes, Shannon watched a flock of starlings fly in condensing and expanding circles.


She nipped the bridge of her nose, the noise from the crowds that morning still ringing in her ears…


She reached over to the passenger seat; rummaging through the jumble of old receipts and papers underneath her coat, groaning in pain as she stretched; ribs still painful and sore.


Swallowing a handful of pills in one go, she shifted a little lower, resting her head against the door window.  


A bloodstain covered most of the lower left side of her shirt. It had dried over the course of the day, turning dark crimson.


She hadn't had time to change. 


“It could happen to any of us.” Sullivan's words played in her head.  


She lifted up her shirt and ran her fingers over the wound. 


Not to me. 


She leaned back and closed her eyes.


It had almost healed.


Not to me. 

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