A Black Bear Killer in Castaway County Chapter 1

It was early in the morning. I had gone to bed late after watching an old western movie on the TV and had been careful not to awaken Suzi as she was sleeping comfortably on her side of the bed. I was in the middle of an all too familiar nightmare, one that seems to haunt me on occasion with a restlessness and aggravation I can't seem to shake off.

I'm back on the Boston Police and I've responded to a break in call in one of the warehouse districts. It is a cold, rainy night as I walk around the south end of a huge warehouse and see an open window toward the rear of the building. I have my gun drawn and my flashlight pointed toward the window. The beam of the flashlight is broken by the heavy rain and the distance between us so it does not fully illuminate the suspect as he begins to exit the building through the window.

As he steps down on the pavement underneath the window, I yell for him to stop, put his hands up and identify myself as a cop. The suspect turns toward me and in that split second I see a small twinkle of light shining off a dark colored metal object in his right hand. My mind reels and I'm sure it was a reflection off the barrel of a gun, which is now pointed in my direction. I immediately squeeze the trigger on my gun, firing two shots toward the suspect and he, in turn, falls to the ground in a heap.

As I walk toward the motionless suspect, I call on my portable radio that I have shots fired and one suspect down. I get to the suspect and, while covering him with my gun hand, I use my other hand to roll him over so I can check his vital signs and recover his weapon. As his body turns, I look at the face and realize the suspect is a youth, not a grown man, probably in the area of fifteen or sixteen. I quickly glance at his hands and find that the metal object I saw gleam in the light was merely a black metal flashlight.

I immediately begin to sweat all over and start having convulsions as a precursor to puking. I can hear sirens in the background, as I fall to my knees.

As this horrible scene was taking place in my dream, a loud ring broke my concentration. I immediately sat up and began to reach for my phone beside the bed. I was soaked with sweat and still trembling.

That instant, when the ring of the phone interrupts a deep sleep, is one of the hardest things about being a law enforcement officer, especially one who is in an administrative position. You have to train yourself to be able to go from deep sleep to being totally awake in an instant. I know that such morning calls are always ones where the caller is seeking some definitive direction or solution to a major problem. I have to be ready to focus on the problem and give them the correct answer, so I have to be wide-awake. That's my job. I'm the Sheriff: Dell Hinton, Sheriff of Castaway County Maine.