Whatever happens, I don’t want to miss it.

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I crawl out of bed every morning at four o’clock.

Don’t need a clock

Don’t need an alarm.

I just wake up.

That’s awful early, you say.

It is.

You’re crazy, you say.

I won’t argue the point.

What going on at four o’clock, you say.

I don’t know.

And that’s why I get up so early.

I want to find out.

imagesIt all began back to my early days as a police reporter for the afternoon edition of the Worth Star-Telegram.

I was accustomed to wandering into the police department around six o’clock, checking with the dispatchers to find out if anything was going on while the city was shrugging off last night’s sleep.

Generally, all was quiet.

It was that peaceful block of time that existed between chaos and confusion, when the bad guys were just going to bed, and the good guys were just getting ready to face a new day, and they wouldn’t cross paths for a while, if ever.

On a Thursday, if I remember the day correctly, all hell had broken loose.

And I slept through it.

“What’s happening? I asked as I walked into the little room where two radio dispatchers were pouring coffee down their throats to stay awake.

“Nothing now,” curly hair said.

“You missed a helluva gunfight last night,” Baldy said.

“When?” I wanted to know.

“About two-thirty.” Curly Hair said.

They began filling me in with details, speaking, as always, one at a time.

“Two dead.”

“One wounded.”

“A woman was living alone.”

“Over in the apartments near TCU.”

“Two guys knocked the door down.”

“She was sleeping.”

“She did have time to call 9-1-1 before they got in.”

“Did they hurt her?” I asked.

“Shot her once.”

‘Kill her?”

“Hit her in the leg.”

“Mostly, she’s just shook up.”

“They robbed her.”

“Had a lot of fancy jewelry.”

“Was she assaulted?” I asked delicately. I didn’t feel I was old enough to use the rape word.

“The police got there first.”

“It was Sergeant Williams.”

“You know him.”

I nodded.

“Tough sonovabitch.”

“He shot the first one coming out of the woman’s bedroom.”

“Right through the throat.”

“Did he identify himself?’ I wanted to know.

“Said he did.”

“Would it have mattered?” I asked.

“Probably not.”

“The second guy hid behind the woman when he heard the sergeant start shooting.”

“Took her hostage.”

“Didn’t think Williams would shoot.”

“Not with the woman in front of him.”

“Sarge got off three shots.”

“Two bullets hit him.”

“One was fatal.”

“How about the woman?” I asked.

Baldy laughed. “Sarge said she was upset.”

“Because he put her in harm’s way?” I asked.

“Because he didn’t hit the bastard will all three shots, “Baldy said.

“Helluva story,” said Curly Hair.

“Might win you one of them Associated Press awards.”

I grinned.

“Where’s Sergeant Williams now?”

“Went home.”

“Goes home at five.”

“Where’s his report?”

“Said he’ll write it later.”

I shrugged.

“I’ll call him,” I said.

Curly Hair looked at his watch. “Sarge is sleeping by now.”

“I’ll wake him up.”

“I wouldn’t if I was you,” Baldy said.

“Why not?”

“He’s still got two bullets left in the chamber of his revolver.”

“And he doesn’t want to be disturbed.”

“Let me explain it this way,” Curly Hair said. “I wouldn’t call to tell him the world was coming to an end.”

I didn’t call.

I simmered all day.

If I had gotten to the cop shop at four-thirty, I wouldn’t have missed him.

I would have had a helluva story to write.

Might have won an award.

Hard lesson.

Learned lesson.

Been getting up at four ever since.

Maybe nothing happens.

Maybe it will.

If it does, I won’t miss it next time.

New DeadlineNews

Please click the book image to read more about Caleb Pirtle III and his novels. Deadline News is about the newspaper business, a gig he knows well.

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