The Last Town #2:Preparing for the Dead(5)

By: Stephen Knight



Sinclair left without thanking him and strode to the door that led to the parking garage. Meredith clucked her tongue, and he broke stride.

“What?” he asked.

“Aren’t you going to see me upstairs?” she asked, a slight, petulant tone in her voice.

Sinclair snorted. “You know the way.”





LOS ANGELES, CALIFORNIA





Reese had to admit, the National Guard guys seemed to know what they were doing. As they made it back to the stationhouse with several Guardsmen in the Humvees and the rest on foot, Reese couldn’t help think that he was surrounded by a bunch of bad asses that made even the SWAT guys look like wusses. With their helmets, packs of gear, tactical vests, chest protectors, assault rifles, and even pistols and grenades, the Guardsmen caused quite a stir as they double-timed it back to Hollywood Station.

If nothing else, at least I get to arrive in real man style, he thought as he alighted from one of the Humvees when it came to a halt in the precinct parking lot.

“Whoa, the Marines have landed,” said the desk sergeant at the front when Reese led the Guard command element inside.

“I take offense at that,” Captain Narvaez, the commander of the Guard unit, said.

“These guys are Army National Guard,” Reese told the sergeant.

“Yeah, I know,” the sergeant responded. “What do you need, Reese?”

“Need to find Pallata and figure out how we’re going to put these guys to use,” Reese said. “Where is she?”

“Command post, in back,” the sergeant said. “How many guys you got with you?”

“Eight right now, with another ninety coming in,” Narvaez said.

“Ninety? Well, shit, what do you guys think this is, Anzio Beach?” the sergeant said, laughing. Reese didn’t get what was so funny, especially since the stationhouse was buzzing with activity. Cops were coming and going, and sirens wailed outside. Citizens were already queued up at the front door, either coming to file complaints or seeking some degree of safety from the deteriorating situation that loomed outside. While Reese hadn’t seen a lot of action just yet, Narvaez had informed him on the short drive from the parking garage on Ivar Street that the city was beginning to unravel. He’d even shown him some pictures he’d taken from the Black Hawk that had transported them from Griffith Park to the top level of the parking garage. Most had shown fires and terrified Los Angelinos trying to get out of the city. All the major freeways were already clogged up, and the bigger surface streets were, as well. Reese didn’t know how the LAPD was going to be able to get anything done.

“Maybe you should come with me, and leave the rest of your guys here,” Reese said to Narvaez.

“I’d like to bring Plosser with me,” the captain said. He jerked a thumb over his shoulder at a tall man with broad shoulders and a dull expression on his face. The man’s insignia had a lot of chevrons on it, but Reese didn’t know shit about Army ranks, as he had never served in the military. “He’s my senior NCO, we’re kind of joined at the hip.”

“Yeah, okay,” Reese said. He looked at one of the uniformed patrolmen who had accompanied him to the parking garage to link up with the Guardsmen. “Bates, you’re ex-military, right?”

LAPD Patrol Sergeant Bates was almost as tall as Narvaez’s NCO, and he had the same kind of bland look to him. Reese knew it was an act—in real life, Bates was a cut-up who could have been a stand-up comic if he hadn’t already been a committed cop.

“Yeah, Army,” Bates said.

“You stay here with the troops, then. Try and, uh, liaise with them or something, while me, Captain Narvaez, and Sergeant Plosser go meet with Pallata.”

“That’s First Sergeant Plosser, sir,” Plosser said.

Reese spread his hands. “Hey, whatever.” He looked at the rest of the soldiers, standing in the middle of the lobby like an island of utility uniforms. “You guys just vamp for a bit, but do what Bates tells you. Keep your weapons slung, you’re in a police department precinct headquarters, and having guys standing around with guns makes people nervous.”

“Hell, we let you do it, Reese,” the sergeant behind the desk said as he reached over to answer a ringing phone. “Tell Bullet Nips we say hello,” he added before he snatched up the phone and brought the handset to his ear. Bullet Nips was Captain Miriam Pallata’s nickname, on account that one of the cops had come across her Facebook page and found a photo of her in a wet bikini. Even though Reese tried to steer clear of ridiculing senior officers, he had seen the photo, and the nickname was apt. Pallata had nipples the size of .45 rounds.

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