She could see the driver of the stolen car up front. A young, white male with blonde hair, he’d looked back at her several times. His dark sunglasses stared at her. Was there fear in those eyes or determination? She couldn’t tell. Letting her foot off the gas, the police cruiser dropped back just enough to keep the suspect in sight.
She spoke into the mike, “42 Bravo in pursuit of suspect, Highway 5 to Hope.” That’s all she needed to say. Dispatch would inform the RCMP in the town of Hope, and there’d be a reception for the Acura. A cordon of RCMP cruisers would block the highway with a spike belt placed just behind them. The suspects were always trying to past the town of Hope, which was 140 kilometres from the big port city of Vancouver with its population two and a half million. If they reached it, they could hide there. But, as the RCMP always said, you got no hope of getting past the town of Hope.
Her job was to escort this stolen car, keep tabs on it, making sure it got apprehended in the next hour. The city of Merritt had no helicopter. She put her car in cruise control, sat back in her seat, and relaxed.
The cell phone on the dash rang; she hit hands-free and answered. “Corporal Callahan.” She saw it was Staff Sergeant Vincent Tremblay calling, but she wanted to keep it formal.
“Hey, Bernadette, you don’t have to be so formal,” Tremblay said.
“Sorry Sergeant, I’m on police business...and...”
“Nonsense, Bernadette, I thought we discussed this over dinner the other night. You can call me Vince over the phone.”
“Sorry, sir, I’m kind of into being by the book when I’m on the job.” She thought about last night’s dinner. It was supposed to have been a discussion about her moving on to her dream of being a homicide detective. Instead, Tremblay had made overtures, lots of them. You could have driven a logging truck into the innuendo about how lonely he was, how much he could help her...if you know...she’d be agreeable.
The whole evening she’d wanted to lean over the table and punch him in the head. This guy had a wife being treated for cancer in Vancouver, and he was putting the moves on her—for what? So he’d recommend her for promotion and transfer.
“You need to relax, Bernadette,” Tremblay said. “By the way, I heard you where a little late to this call. Someone saw you in the Sacred Heart Church. Everything okay?”
Christ, Bernadette thought, you couldn’t keep anything quiet in this town. She bit her lower lip; the answer would hit to close to home, but she’d give it anyway. “I was saying a Novena and lighting a candle for my aunt Mary...she’s been diagnosed with cancer.”
“Oh, sorry to hear that...I understand. Think nothing of being out of your patrol car and not calling it in. I won’t enter it into my report.”
You bet your ass you won’t put it into your report. Your wife’s fighting cancer while your trying to get me into the sack. “Thank you, sir, I really appreciate it. I’ll make sure I do that on my own time from now on.”
“Duly noted, Bernadette...I’m always happy to help you become a better officer. And, you know of course, to help mentor you in your detective career...we could start tonight...you know, my place at eight? I’ve got some great trout, I just caught up river, and I—”
“Sorry, sir, you’re breaking up. I’ll have to get back to you at the end of this suspects capture.” Bernadette said, hitting the end button on her cell phone. The conversation was making her sweat.
She sat back in her car seat, picked up her cold coffee mug and took a large swig of the cold liquid to clear her head. She’d been in Merritt for three years. This was supposed to be her last posting while she studied for RCMP Detective, but Sergeant Tremblay was the obstacle. The son of bitch looked at her like she was meat in a display case when they stood for dress parade in the morning. Did the other officers not see it? She wondered whom to approach.
She was the only female officer in a small detachment. If she wanted to complain she’d have to file with divisional headquarters. Her chances didn’t seem good of anyone giving her complaint credibility. It was 2008. Female RCMP officers were shutting up and leaving the force in droves over sexual harassment.
She loved the RCMP with all her soul. She loved the law and the people it protected. There was no way she was going to let some lecherous sergeant stand in her way.
Bernadette Callahan was twenty-eight years old, five foot eight with an athletic build from her dedication to working out in the gym and a mild pooch folding over her utility belt that showed her fondness for donuts and junk food.
She was half Irish and Cree Native with reddish hair, green eyes, and a brown tone with freckles. The years of growing up hard on the reservation had kept her focused. Once she decided on something, she went for it. Her goal was to be a detective in the Royal Canadian Mounted Police.
Of all things in life, nothing excited her more than this goal. The why was easy: it made her into a hunter. On the reservation, she’d learned to hunt at the age of six with her grandfather tracking game through the forest. Bringing an animal down was not as satisfying as the first glimpse after a long day spent on its trail.
Tracking felons was the same. She loved the hunt. Catching them and putting them in prison was satisfying, but the hunt was the rush. She’d moved from one small town to another where her reputation for solving crimes was sometimes welcomed and sometimes...when the male ego of a superior officer got bruised, it was not.
She was on her third small town in the past eight years. Her rank had grown, but her prospects of becoming a detective seemed dim. First, she needed to transfer to a larger city and get into the major crimes division. The recommendation for transfer was on Tremblay’s desk. He stood between her and her shield.
The car ahead of her sped up. She matched its speed but stayed a reasonable distance behind. Follow too close, they did something stupid like hit ridiculous speeds and do a rollover. If she followed too far away, they’d try to double back to town, thinking somehow they’d drive right by her patrol car without her noticing.
A scale of how new they were to crime measured the stupidity of criminals. The “newbies”, often fueled by alcohol, did the dumbest things. The ones who’d been to prison or Crime University, where they learned the trade, learned better skills. They were the worthy adversaries Bernadette liked to chase.
This one she was chasing had to be a newbie. Her car radio came on. The officers in Hope wanted the status of the pursuit. She gave her position as 80 kilometres out. The boys there would have time to pick up coffee on their way to the roadblock.
Bernadette sat back, sipping on her cold coffee, watching the car ahead and the fall scenery of the valley as they rose up into the mountain pass. She thought it was rather a nice day for a car chase.
The car ahead braked hard. It slowed down. Callahan sat up. Was the idiot about to ditch the car and make a run for it? Bad idea. The woods turned into wide-open fields. She’d run him down in no time.
The car made a sharp right turn on Kane Valley road. It went to the abandoned Coal Mine. Was he crazy? It was a total dead end.
Bernadette radioed the turn to dispatch. She asked for backup from Hope. The other officers in Merritt would never get to her in time. They’d been sent to investigate some thefts at a remote fishing lodge.
Dispatch came back with, “Officers in Hope has been advised to stand-down.”
Stand down? What the hell? How was she going to chase this suspect into the mine? She needed some backup.
Bernadette picked up her mike. “Say again, dispatch, did you say officers in Hope will stand-down? Over.”
“Affirmative,” Dispatch replied. “Sergeant Tremblay will advise. Over.”
A strange feeling came over Bernadette. She’d never been alone on a case with Tremblay. She didn’t want it to be in the forest or an abandoned mine with him. If he tried moves in a crowded restaurant full of town’s people, what the hell would he do here?
Her cell phone rang. “Corporal, Callahan.”
“Bernadette. I’ll be coming as your back up.” Tremblay said.
“There’s, ah, no need for you to get involved, sir. One of the officers from Hope could be here inside an hour. “
You’ll take position outside the mine and wait for me. Do you copy?”
“Copy that, sir,” Bernadette said. She hit the end button on the phone. Sanctimonious bastard. I copy that. And if you try anything at the mine I’ll put my boot so far up your ass you’ll need an extraction tool to remove it.
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