The UNIT, Sam Hendrick’s Last Ride

A Legend in Her Own Time

I have finished my second novel, “Sam Hendrick’s Last Ride, The UNIT”. I am just waiting for the cover art. It should be ready by Christmas, maybe even Christmas of this year. In the mean time I have started on a third. I’m not sure whether it will be another novel or a collection of short stories. The UNIT is back! I have included a chapter or short story here. Let me know what you think. As always what follows might be based on real incidents. Then again it could be the product of a sick mind. You decide.

Cops have a story telling tradition. A fairy tale begins with, ‘Once upon a time….” A cop story detailing how one of their own became a legend in their own time begins with, ‘This is no shit…’

Cops don’t differentiate between acts of valor or incidents of incredible stupidity. Any act, sufficiently outrageous, can saddle the recipient with the title, ‘Legend in their own time.’

Most officers assigned to the UNIT owed their assignment to achieving legend in their own time status. Some continued to add accolades. Pete was one who continually updated his status.

Pete planned to purchase methamphetamine from a long time speed freak. He was supposed to meet Gene-Gene the Meth Machine a few blocks from the Hays City Police Station. Having time to kill, Pete stopped in at the police station. As he was walking in, he met Chief Thorpe on the way out.  Thorpe addressed Pete, “you’ll do come with me.”

“I got a deal in a couple of minutes, is this going to take long?” asked Pete.

Receiving no answer, he followed Chief out to the parking lot and into his unmarked car.  They ended up at Tiny’s body shop. Parked in the wash bay was a marked patrol unit. 

“Any time you’re ready you can take that back to the station,” said Thorpe, “remember what it was like to drive one and recall who the fuckin boss is around here!” 

Pete didn’t say a word, it wouldn’t have done any good, and talk, after all, is cheap. But one “fuck you” deserves another. He fired up the radio.

“8404, to 101, I’ve gotta make one stop at the stop and rob just up the street, can you get a standoff eye on the place and then follow me away?”

“101, 10-4,” replied Thorpe.

Pete drove to the Stop & Shop and pulled up next to “Gene-Gene the Meth machine.” Speed freaks, are like idiot savants. Find what they fixate on, and they will ignore anything else to feed their obsession.

Gene was a car freak, specifically a police car freak. Gene was convinced there wasn’t anything on the road faster than a police car. It stood to reason; he had seen it with his own eyes. Police cars stopped Ferraris, Porsches, and Corvettes. If those cars were faster than a police car, why did they stop?  Gene bought surplus police cars at auction. To this point, they were all clapped out shitboxes. But one of these days he was going to get one that hadn’t been detuned. 

Gene looked over, then away and then back. He was caught on the horns of a dilemma. Dopers don’t want to get caught looking at a cop. Everybody knew if a cop caught you staring, then he would jack you up. At the same time, if you didn’t look at the Po-Po (police), he would jack you up, for not looking at him. Then there was the whole cop car thing, if Gene didn’t carefully inspect every patrol car, he might never crack the code. His opportunity to get his holy grail, a hot patrol car would pass. 

Gene peeked, this guy didn’t look like a cop. In tweaker circles, it generally is not a good idea for the guy you intend to do a dope deal with to arrive driving a marked police car. But there are exceptions to every rule. Pete gave the siren a bump and then waved Gene over. Gene did a double take, it was, his buddy, Pete, how did he, where did he…

Gene came over to the patrol car and got in the front seat, “What the fuck, man?”

“Ain’t, it fucking neat?” asked Pete. “I’m doing a favor for a friend. This just came out of his body shop, and he needed someone to drop it off. I figured fuckin Gene will get his rocks off.”

“I’ve never sat in the front seat, does it have any switches for like boosters or anything,” asked Gene.

“I don’t know about any of that, I just figured you would get a kick out of it,” said Pete.

“Pretty kick ass, how many folks gonna be able to say they did a dope deal in a police car?” said Gene. He reached into his pocket and pulled out a two-inch square baggie and said, “One eightball, ephedrine based, not bad, not the best, for you $150.”

“Thanks, man, here is your cash,” said Pete.

He pulled away and drove to the station. He parked the patrol car in a slot reserved for patrol cars and then walked around the building to the public entrance. Just as if he was delivering the car. He was immediately let into the secure area and reached the Chief’s door just as Thorpe did.

“What’s up between you and Gene-Gene?” asked Chief.

“You know him?” Pete asked. “You feel comfortable identifying him?”

“Sure,” he has bought three or four surplus vehicles from us,” said Chief.

“Well, he just sold me an eightball of speed in the front seat of that patrol car you had me drive,” said Pete. “Try and get that supplement report detailing your investigative efforts to me by the end of the week, would you?”

“You bought dope in my patrol car?” the Chief asked incredulously.

“I told you I had a deal set up,” said Pete. Thorpe shook his head. Foiled again in the fuck-fuck game.


Even Roscoe was accepted as a legend in his own time. At the end of the shift, his handler, at the time, Patterson would let Roscoe loose in the backyard and allow him to run and take care of his business.

Patterson came outside after changing clothes. Roscoe came tearing around the house carrying something in his mouth. He ran up to Patterson, dropped the object at his feet, nudged it, sat down and then nudged it again. The implication was clear, this dog was damned proud. He was in effect saying, “Forget the hamburgers and hot dogs for dinner, we’re having rabbit.” There at Patterson’s feet was a big, fat, albino, rabbit. 

Patterson looked at the offering with horror. He snatched it up before Roscoe got any more ideas. He was pretty sure he knew where the rabbit came from, He headed around behind the house to the fence line he shared with his neighbor. The hole in the fence seemed to confirm his worst fears. He climbed up on the fence and peered over the top. There sat a rabbit hutch empty and forlorn, the door swinging in the wind. Mr. Bugs, the neighbor’s rabbit, had left the building.

Patterson was convinced that his neighbor, Fred couldn’t handle this truth. Patterson had his partner to protect.

Patterson put Roscoe in his kennel. He quickly repaired the fence. He took another look at Mr. Bugs. His fur was matted, and mud and dirt was clinging to the fur. Patterson went into the house and grabbed some shampoo and conditioner. He then set about washing up Mr. Bugs. His initial efforts resulted in a cleaner but a bedraggled bunny. Back in the bathroom, this time for the blow dryer and a hair brush. Ten minutes of effort yielded a fluffy but still dead bunny. It would have to do. 

Patterson checked front and back, still nobody home next door. In less than sixty seconds it was done. Patterson was up and over the fence. Mr. Bugs was safely contained in his hutch.

Patterson hadn’t settled in his chair long before there was a forceful knock at the door. Patterson answered the door to find a visibly upset Fred standing on his doorstep. Patterson prepared himself to hear what he already knew. Mr. Bugs was dead.

Then Patterson got the rest of the story. Mr. Bugs died the previous day. There was a funeral. All the neighborhood kids were in attendance. Mr. Bugs was buried in the backyard. Fred related that he came home tonight and was puttering around in the backyard. Then he saw it. Some sick motherfucker dug Mr. Bugs up, gave him a bath and put him back in the hutch. What kind of sick person would do something like that?”

Patterson didn’t have to play act, “I don’t know, I guess it takes all kinds. You want me to help you bury Mr. Bugs again?”

Roscoe didn’t get to eat rabbit, and Patterson narrowly escaped eating crow. He decided that he needed to pay more attention to conversations at family meals.


Sharon was the latest addition to the UNIT. She was there because she had crippled the star running back for the University football team, thus ending any hope of the football team winning a NCAA division two title. She was in the running for legend status. Some diehards, like Pete and Doug thought she only qualified for junior status.

A month into her tenure and Sharon had been out with just about everybody. She made a second buy under the tutelage of Sophie. In the process she met a reformed prostitute who now worked as a bartender and informant.

On this particular day she was with Buck. Sharon didn’t figure she was going to pick up any undercover tips from him. She didn’t know what to make of him. Everybody in the office respected him. He didn’t seem to do much of anything but seemed to know what everybody had going on.

They were in Buck’s g-ride and headed for Solms County. He didn’t take a direct route. He drove in a seemingly random manner and made several stops. These stops were at two feed stores, a gas station, a convenience store and two restaurants. At each location he bought them each a coffee. They carried the coffee out to the car and continued their journey, dumping the coffee along the way.

Each restaurant entailed more coffee. Buck was known at all these places. Some folks stopped by to talk. Others waved from across the room. Sharon didn’t question Buck, just headed for the ladies room.

“As they returned to the car Buck chuckled, “That’s it no more coffee.”

“Other that pouring out a bunch of coffee, what did we accomplish?” asked Sharon.

“Why we were seen and got seen,” replied Buck. “Two folks indicated that I need to sit down with them later on.”

“I must have missed it,” said Sharon.

“Nope, you just don’t know the tricks of the trade,” said Buck.

“I’m old school and so are my informants. Pagers, cell phones and answering machines just aren’t in their vocabulary. I got messages at two of those places. At one a person was waiting to see me. The fact that he was there means that we need to meet.  The specific time and place are already set. At another location, an advertisement on the community bulletin board did much the same thing.”

Sharon decided that she had better pay attention to the old guy. They continued their journey. Once in Solms County Buck switched from the task force frequency to the Solms SO radio. The radio traffic served as background much like Muzak in the grocery store. Buck was giving her his thoughts about running informants. He paused and then turned up the radio.

“SO, to all units, supplemental, BOLO, George Flynn, aka Mad Hatter, white, male, 5’8, 130, long brown hair and balding, last seen at Golden Age retirement center. Wanted for murder just occurred. Approach with caution.”

“I bought dope off that idiot,” exclaimed Sharon.

“Well, let’s just ease on over there and see what’s going on,” said Buck.

Once at the scene, Buck instructed her to stay close. They followed the uniforms to an apartment in the independent living section of the complex. Buck checked in with the officer maintaining the crime scene log and they were allowed in.

The entry led into the kitchen which gave way to the living room. Off to the left was a bedroom. The apartment appeared to have been ransacked. Blood spatter and stains tracked the progress of the assault. It ended in a pool of blood in the bedroom doorway. The victim, Barbara Flynn was still alive when found. She died at the hospital, but not before naming her son as her assailant.

As a university cop, bloody crime scenes were outside of her experience. During her tenure at the university, death came in the form of a couple of overdoses and one hanging suicide. Sharon related her contact with Flynn. The lead investigator was polite, but his attitude indicated that she hadn’t added anything he didn’t already know.

Their good deed done, Buck and Sharon cleared the scene. A thought occurred to her, “Where are the Landmark? Apartments”

“That’s the old powerhouse, it sits along the river,” said Buck.

“Is it near the island?” she asked.

“From here? Yeah, it’s about halfway between the retirement center and the island,” said Buck. “Why?”

“I’m pretty sure that George is on foot. His co-defendant, in my case, has an apartment at the Landmark. He also has a car,” said Sharon.

“Sure, why not,” said Buck. He headed towards the Landmark. Up until the late sixties it was the electric generating station for Solms County and the surrounding area. It stood seven stories tall. When it was converted to apartments, the interior was gutted. Apartments ringed an interior atrium that soared six stories.

The Mad Hatter’s co-defendant, Lance Wynn had an apartment on the fifth floor. Once on the fifth floor they split up to search for Wynn’s apartment. That Wynn wasn’t home was evidenced by the fact that George was hunkered down in the entry alcove.

Sharon was about thirty feet away when he popped out of the alcove. She was surprised, drew her pistol and identified herself as a police officer. He was wild eyed and apparently didn’t recognize Sharon. George twisted away, only to be confronted by Buck coming from the opposite direction.

George clambered up on the railing. “Don’t come any closer or I’ll jump.”

Sharon responded, “Don’t jump, you might live. Dive, you want to make sure to land on your head.”

George did as suggested and went off the rail head first. He didn’t survive.

Buck looked at Sharon but didn’t say anything.

“Hey, I talked him off the railing,” Sharon said.

The police report and ensuing news story indicated that George Flynn, suspected of robbing and murdering his mother committed suicide rather that submit to arrest. Part of the art of speaking to the press is in what isn’t said. According to Buck Trembly, “officers did everything they could to talk George down.”

The next day Sharon found a name plate on her desk with her name and the title “suicide prevention counselor”. Neatly framed was a certificate that stated that she was a proud graduate of the Roscoe Rules School of Suicide Prevention. Pete and Doug elevated her from junior status.