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End of Watch

It's noble to die in the line of duty. 

In the Gutter, it's a line drawn with blood.

End of Watch by Kevin Z. Garvey




The only way to successfully impersonate a police officer, William Jasper knew, was to fully commit to the role. You had to believe, truly believe, that you were a cop. If you didn't, well, then the people you pulled over might not believe it either.

Jasper had it down to a science. He'd been impersonating an officer for several years and had made dozens of traffic stops. 

He'd equipped his car, a Ford Crown Victoria, to resemble an unmarked police vehicle. He had a spotlight mounted above the side-view mirror, and a police scanner under the dash. His most important piece of equipment, though, was a red rotating police beacon. On traffic stops, he'd place the beacon's magnetic base on his rooftop and let it shine. The one thing he didn't have was a siren, but he'd found that he didn't need one. Once you were behind somebody and that red light started flashing, they'd pull right over.

Jasper never arrested anyone, of course. He didn't have the authority. Nor did he carry a gun. He did have a badge, though. A high-quality replica that could easily pass for the real thing. It was all he needed. He'd pull people over, flash the badge, and then detain them for a few minutes while pretending to run their plates and registrations. After giving the perps some time to mull over their transgressions, he'd let them off with a warning. Jasper felt it was a service to the community. He was slowing speeders down and, who knows, maybe he'd even saved some lives.

Jasper's final traffic stop started out like all the rest. Late at night, he'd been sitting on the shoulder of a lonely stretch of highway with his radar gun, waiting. After an uneventful hour, he was ready to call it a night when a Chevy Impala passed by, doing ten miles an hour over the speed limit.

Jasper sprang into action. He threw the radar gun on the seat, turned on the beacon, fired up the engine, and hit the gas.

As expected, he saw the Impala's brake lights immediately come on. The car slowed and moved over to the shoulder, where it rolled to a stop. Jasper pulled in behind it. He sat in his car a minute, letting the driver stew. Then he got out and approached the vehicle.

The driver was a pretty blonde woman. Jasper was relieved it wasn't a man. Traffic stops were always scarier when there was a guy behind the wheel.

The blonde rolled her window down and looked at him with fear in her eyes. Good. That meant she had a healthy respect for the law. Jasper shined his flashlight around the inside of her car.

"Do you know why I pulled you over?" he said.

"I can't go back to jail," the woman said.

Back to jail? That was a first. Jasper almost smiled at the tension in the woman's voice. But she had nothing to worry about. Even if she had an outstanding warrant, there was nothing he could do about it. Still, it was going to be fun to make this lawbreaker squirm.

"License and registration, please," he said, with a little extra authority in his voice.

The woman let out a sigh. "I'm so sorry," she said, as she reached down into her lap and came up with a gun.

Jasper felt his blood freeze. What was going on here? It was only a traffic stop, for crying out loud. He dropped the flashlight and put his hands up.

The woman pointed the gun at his head.

"Wait!" he cried.

The woman didn't hesitate. The first shot caught him in the cheek, just below his eye.

He screamed and his legs buckled.

The next shot grazed the top of his head, while another hit him in the neck.

Jasper fell to his knees then dropped face first onto the roadway. He heard the Impala start up and pull away.

Pushing himself up with his arms, he watched the Impala's taillights fade. Then he looked back down at the pavement and saw a huge puddle of blood, more blood than he'd ever seen in his life.

With a jolt of panic, he rolled onto his back and clutched at his shoulder mike. "Shots fired," he gasped. "Officer down."

The signal went nowhere. The mike wasn't connected to a radio. It was just a prop. 

Jasper knew he was going to die. He could feel his life draining away. Groaning, he looked back towards his car and watched the rotating red light go round and round. There was something comforting about that light. It reminded him that he was a police officer, and that his wounds had come in the line of duty. 

Though he lay dying, he smiled as he envisioned a long line of police cars escorting his body to the cemetery, where he'd get a hero's funeral.

In his last act on Earth, William Jasper raised his right hand to his head, giving himself a final salute, acknowledging his end of watch.




Kevin Z. Garvey's crime fiction has appeared in Out of the Gutter Online, Thuglit, Shotgun Honey and other publications. In addition to writing, Garvey is an award-winning combat sports ring announcer and is a member of the NJ State Martial Arts Hall of Fame. You can visit him on the web at kevinzgarvey.com.