Francis Meyrick

Cops & Robbers (8B) “Spotlights and Bullets (Part 2) “

Posted on July 5, 2011

Spotlights and Bullets

Part TWO

On the ground, there was now what sounded like complete chaos. Everybody was talking at once, but with half sentences, unintelligible instructions, warnings, and frantic counter orders. With bullets flying, tall mountains around, steel aerials, and a large bull’s eye painted on the bottom of my helicopter, I wondered once again about my choice of career. I listened hard, and tried to make sense of it all, whilst straining to keep the light on the metal building. Orbiting, orbiting, aiming, and amidst all of this, darting a look outside at the mountains. Trying to keep clearance, keep clearance, keep it safe…

Amidst the pandemonium, the cool voice of Lincoln Nine cut in. Our Patrol Commander. He sounded unfazed. He was a remarkably clear thinker under pressure. Logical.

“Air One! You can disengage if you wish…”

He was offering me an out. I was free to cut and run if I wanted to.

Yeah, right…

I replied something, and went grimly back to my task.
Keep the light ON that building…
Orbit, orbit, orbit…
Watch for the mountain side…
Watch for the aerials…
Check the gauges… Pressures and temperatures in the green…

But no matter what I did, I kept wandering off a bit. There is a world of difference between single pilot operations of a helicopter at night over an illuminated city, and single pilot ops at night, high up in the mountains. When the ground is flat, keeping station is relatively easy. When your reference points are all over the place, so is your orbit. Try as I might, I couldn’t help but wander off, only to realize it, correct for it, wander off again… correct for it again… I would lose the buildings in the light, and have to reacquire them. Then answer the radio. A request for light support two hundred yards to the West. I would nail that, and hurriedly glance up to check the mountain side. There would be an uncomfortable few seconds lapse time, during which I would peer through the darkness, not quite sure of my position. Then I would figure that out, go back to the light…

Damn. Lost the target…

And so on, and so forth. Backwards and forwards. Trying to help the guys. Trying to keep it safe.

Hot. Damn. Where are those aerials gone now??
Whoa, baby, you’re getting a bit close to that mountain…
He wants the light WHERE…??

With such a frenetic cockpit work load, fifteen minutes feels like five hours. Now I was drenched in perspiration. The reports coming up (none of them whispered) indicated that one man has been arrested. They are looking for two or three more. And the show continues. Requests for light…

Follow the road down. Three hundred yards right. Watch for my flash light. Good, now aim the light over here, behind that old car. Search the hill side. Stop, back up. Okay, here. Search this area.

Time blurs, and the world has changed. The world is my cockpit, small, artificially illuminated, radios chattering. The world is my ride, perched crazily on top of a burning white finger of Truth, that points accusingly into the Dark World. My mission is Support. Support for the cops on the ground, who have to deal with endless Darkness. I am the bearer of the torch. An Insignificant Acolyte. What matters is not I, but the Light. The Light. In the darkness. The darkness, that is the world…

Time blurs, and now fuel is adding itself to the long list of concerns. I’m getting tired.
Another arrest…
And I’m still going around and around. Around… and around.
Orbiting a crazy, dark world.

* * * * *

The next morning, I was called in to the Sheriff’s Office. The sergeant wanted a word. He took me into a private place. There followed a debrief, and I was warmly thanked for my efforts. With one caveat. My language. Not approved. I looked blank.

Language… what language?

I was reminded that the citizenry often listened in on the Police Radio. And that certain standards of ethics pertained to our operations. I nodded, without comprehension. What was it that I had said?
I was asked if I remembered the radio exchange at the moment the shots had been fired. In particular, the moment that the Patrol Commander had said:
“Air One! You can disengage if you wish…”
I nodded. Yes, I remembered that, sort of. Why?
Did I remember my reply?


“No Sarge, not exactly, I was kind of busy…”
My comment was quoted, for my benefit.


“Sorry, sarge, I guess that won’t do. Won’t happen again…”

* * * * *

As I drove back to the airfield, thoughtfully, I tried to imagine the reaction of the honest Kingman citizenry. Clustered around their radios and scanners, listening in to our conversations.

Heck, I don’t know.

“Air One, you may disengage if you wish!”


Followed by…

A very irate, Irish accented growl…



Oh, well…

Francis Meyrick

Last edited by Francis Meyrick on August 31, 2012, 11:01 am

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4 responses to “Cops & Robbers (8B) “Spotlights and Bullets (Part 2) “”

  1. LOL. Brilliant last line. Fuck, now I’m jealous! I wish I could write Norn Iron stories like yours. I always tried to see the lighter side (too light), turning killers into grown-up children fighting over gobstoppers and lemon meringue and banana-skins on the streets (as one does).

  2. "turning killers into grown-up children fighting over gobstoppers and lemon meringue and banana-skins on the streets (as one does)."

    Sounds like a lot of old children I have known. The bodies of men and the minds of little kids. Emotionally immature and spiritually dead….


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