At the inquest, it would be found that Officer Araújo had made several mistakes. But the fact that an international criminal had slipped through his fingers might be forgiven that night. But that this Americano had destroyed his motorcycle, well, he wouldn't live that down for years.
It had been a crazy night and everyone, including Officer Araújo had been on edge. There had been several suspicious explosions that evening, a few fires and some calls for assistance that had sent the police and fire departments racing all over town, many times for nothing at all. There was talk of calling in the National Guard to assist with things. This like this didn't happen in this town, in this district or even very much in this country. They kept to themselves, and except for the tourists, no one much came around, and rarely was there trouble. They night was surely testing everyone.
Officer Araújo should not have stopped on his own that evening, should have called for backup, or simply left the rental car alone. It had pulled to the shoulder. That was out of character. That was something an American might do, but it wasn't something the locals did. And on a night as crazy as this, that stood out. An American, in the part of town, at night. It wasn't an area where you'd come to expect to find a tourist. And with the circumstances of the evening, that was enough.
There was no sense of foreboding. His experience with American tourists had been that they were easily put in their place by law enforcement. Sure, they could be loud and obnoxious, but when push came to shove, they understood respect of authority and rarely did it take more than the invitation to go talk "downtown" (a phrase he'd learned from American TV) for them to settle down or move along or whatever it was he was asking them to do.
He'd been on the force about four years, it was a good job. It was a typically safe and predictable job. And the fact that he got to do it in this beachside town while riding a motorcycle, well, he was the envy of all of his friends who suffered through tourist season and then stressed through the off-season, or who had long commutes to the factories for what they called "the man's real work" as they mocked his motorcycle, derisively referring to it as a "bicicleta pouco." They could laugh all they wanted, but Jaco knew they were jealous.
True enough, his motorcycle wasn't a big one like the American police had on TV, but still, it had a shield painted on it, it went fast enough, he was in great shape, he wore a uniform and he had perfected the swagger affected by police the world over. Efigenia would tell him one day that it was the swagger that had first caught her eye in the first place. They shared a little flat above a small market. It was a nice little life they shared,
But as Jaco replayed the evening over and over again in his head over the following months, he'd kick himself for the the mistakes he'd made.
He dismounted and approached the idling blue truck with the license plate with a 3 in the second position, the secret sign to the police that this was a rental. As he approached the driver's side, the window quietly rolled down. Jaco stood back from the window where he'd be visible in the mirror but not in a position where the driver could reach him (or shoot him.) He trained his flashlight into the cabin and asked for the man's papers. It didn't seem like there was anyone else in the truck, but he couldn't tell. The man was messing with something in his lap and Jaco strained to see what it was.
There was a beep and the man instinctively jerked his arm up to look at it. As he did so, the envelope on the men's lap slid to the floor and Jaco could see his gun. At that same moment, there was the dull thud of another explosion somewhere else in town. That could not have been a coincidence.
Dell swore at himself for looking at his stupid watch. He looked up to see the police officer pointing his service revolver at his face. The gun was shaking and Dell noticed the officer had made a mistake. Very quickly Dell yanked on the door handle while pushing the door hard with his left foot.
Officer Araújo found himself sitting, dumbfounded in the road. He could hear the clattering as his gun continued to slide across the road. Before he could even scramble to his feet, he could hear the engine roaring, the squealing of the tires and the awful crunching sound of his bike falling to the ground as the 2,700kg vehicle rolled up on it, flattening it.
Yep, he would not live this down. Even after the vehicle was found torched just a few short kilometers away the next morning, the committee would at least recognize that even though Jaco had failed to apprehend the criminal, so had the rest of his squad. Granted, some cars had been damaged, but none had been destroyed like his motorcycle.
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