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Marshall Frank novel

BEYOND THE CALL
A novel by Marshall Frank
an excerpt...


Prologue

THURSDAY, DECEMBER 18TH, 2:12 a.m.

They staggered to the parking lot like a pair of street drunks out of a fifties movie. With a gaping smile, Danny Ray Duckworth held up the half empty can of Coors with one hand and squooshed it all over Joe Bob's hair. But the skinny shitkicker just laughed, threw his arm around his buddy's neck and gave him an inebriated smooch on the cheek. "Come_on, prick," he said giggling and flopping his torso atop the hood of the yellow and black Oldsmobile 442. "Let's (hic) see if this piece of shit runs."

"Hey man, you sherious? Thish is George's car."

"Yeah ... so?"

"Come on Joe Bob. I can't shteal the owner's car."

Joe Bob hiccupped, posed like he was shocked and slobbered all over himself. "Why not? (Hic) Chicken?"

Danny was full bearded for eighteen, easily passing for twenty-one at George's Billiard Hall on Coconut Palm Drive. "Hey," he said, "how 'bout that old Fairlane across, over there? Shit that would be a piece..."

"Fuck the Ford. Christ, Danny, you know what this 442 has in it? George completely worked it over. (hic) Musta spent ten grand. Got a four hundred fifty-five cubic inch with dual four barrels ... runs like a Goddam rocket."

The larger boy stood swaying, catching his balance, looking at the car, then turning to Joe Bob with a wry grin. "What time does the old man close up?"

Joe Bob smiled back and wiped his mouth with the tail of his tee shirt. "Four a.m. (hic) We got two hours man. We could have it back and he'd never know it was outa here."

Under a starlit sky on a cool December night in the suburbs, twenty-four miles south of Miami, they sl ipped into the hot-rod with the ease of two snakes slithering in tall grass. Danny Ray Duckworth took the wheel, jimmied the ignition and started the engine. Joe Bob Evans giggled and slapped his buddy's head. "Shit I knew you could do it you (hic) mother fucker."

Danny rolled from the driveway, looking left and right to make sure there were no cops.

"Take it slow Danny boy, (hic) until we get to the Turnpike." He reached over and tuned the radio to a rock station the moment the car turned east onto the two lane road. "Look at this leather man. Shit. (hic) Fucking class."

"Yeah. Real clash." As he drove off, Danny started having second thoughts. He stopped at the curb and gestured, "Hey Joe Bob you drive, okay? My license ... I ain't got it with me. If I get ...

That moment, a rotund middle aged man slammed through the doors of the pool hall and bolted across the street toward the 442. "Hey you sons a bitches, outa that fucking car! You're dead meat, you hear me!"

Joe Bob heard him first and looked through the rear window. He was less than a hundred yards and running like hell with a cue stick in both hands. "Gun it Danny! Come on! Now!"

Under the glowing amber hue from sodium vapor street lights, the silence of the night was awakened by the screeching of double-wide radials depositing a half pound of rubber on the pavement of Coconut Palm Drive. As the car raced off, fat George heaved the cue stick in a fit of anger.

"Haul ass, man!" Joe Bob grabbed the dash, looked back and laughed. "Did you see the look on that fucker's face?"

"Hey, Joe Bob, maybe thish ain't such a good idea. I jus' got a bad feelin'." Danny started to slow.

"Gun it godammit, Danny. (hic) What the fuck is with you?" Danny floored the pedal and the steel yellow machine shot east at eighty miles per hour and climbing. "Man, this fucker moves out."

"Get on the expressway, Danny. There!"

"What about the troopers?"

"Fuck the troopers. They're (hic) all getting laid this time a night."

Danny hit the ramp at fifty without braking and headed north on the Turnpike extension bringing the speedometer to a hundred and ten within seconds. Joe Bob was in euphoria smacking the dash board. "Yeeeeeeow! What a fucking car!"

The pike was barren with no other cars in sight. Sobering, Danny gripped the wheel with two hands, his eyes steeled to the rear view mirror. He screamed over the whoosh of violent air through open windows. "Look, Joe Bob, I'm pulling off at the next ramp. Okay? This is crazy man."

Joe Bob turned up the speakers. Rock-music blared as the skinny, shaggy-haired drunk wailed, "Yeeeeeow!"

Danny was nearing the ramp where he could turn onto a side street and bail out. Fuck Joe Bob, he thought to himself, I don't need this shit.

He slowed to seventy and checked the rear view mirror once more, then his heart sunk into his stomach. A quarter mile back, red and blue flashers were closing in. "Shit! We gotta bail out, man."

His inebriated buddy spun around and stuck his head out the passenger window, his long blond hair blowing violently. Then he smiled. "They'll never catch you, Danny boy. Come on. Give 'em a fuckin' ride. Yeeeow!"

A melange of thoughts raced through Danny's mind in those few seconds. His father would disown him if he got in trouble one more time. His license would be revoked. He'd lose his job and go to jail for sure. If he could only find a dark street and just bail out.

"Move it! Danny, come on, man." Grinning, Joe Bob beat the dash like a bongo drum.

The flashers were nearing. Danny thought about pulling over and running but he had hesitated too long. The police car was no match for the 442. As he exited the ramp onto South Dixie Highway, the cruiser blasted its siren. A voice from a loud speaker blared, "Pull the car over to the curb!"

"Hit it Danny, come on man. I don't wanna go back to jail."

Danny had nearly stopped. Then ... SCREEEECH! As his size ten Reeboks jammed the accelerator, the car jack-rabbited north leaving the police cruiser in the dust. The 442 reached ninety before the next traffic light. Another set of flashers headed toward them from the south-bound side, then a second set behind those. The ubiquitous wailing sounds of sirens and screeching tires fueled his sense of panic. He had to get off Dixie Highway. Joe Bob let out another yelp. "All right! Hit it man! (hic) No one can touch us."

The Oldsmobile accelerated taking a wide right from Dixie on two wheels at one hundred and eighty-fourth street. Two sets of flashers remained in pursuit. They passed through a residential artery as the chase cars seemed to drift back. Danny looked left and right, hoping and praying he could dump the car around a dark corner and run. Joe Bob wailed on. From nowhere, another set of headlights and flashers came at him. Danny whipped a left turn across the sidewalk onto the lawn of a house, clipped the rear fender of a '94 Cadillac and squealed onto a side street. One by one, house lights turned on. The flashers were only a few hundred yards behind. He whipped another right and sped to the end of a cul de sac. "Shit!"

Joe Bob screamed, "Get back to the fuckin' turnpike, Danny, come on! Then you can let it out."

Danny circled the cul de sac and raced head-on toward headlights and flashers. The siren grew louder as a green and white cruiser chickened away into a residential driveway, smashing broadside into a Ford Explorer. "He's gone." shouted Danny checking his rear view. The coast was clear. He aimed the 442 west on Richmond Drive when two sets of flashers suddenly turned a corner, one to his rear and one coming at him. He gunned the accelerator again as they reached South Dixie and hung another right, caroming off the median strip. A third set of flashers appeared from behind, then a fourth. The sirens blared from all directions. It was an eighty mile per hour caravan of cops. Ignoring traffic lights, the 442 reached one hundred miles per hour when Danny decided to head for the turnpike. He spun left onto Coral Reef Drive going airborne across railroad tracks and leaving the police cars far behind. They were two miles into the Richmond Heights development as they rapidly approached a blockade of Highway Patrol and Metro-Dade police cars waiting under an overpass with flashers rotating. "Keep going!" shouted Joe Bob.

He had four seconds to evaluate and decide. They had only blockaded the westbound side of the divided roadway. Danny saw an opening in the median strip, jerked the car left onto the eastbound lanes and headed through, passing the roadblock. "All right! We did it! Yahooo!" shouted Joe Bob, his eyes ablaze. Uniformed officers scurried as police cars went in frantic pursuit. Danny roared to ninety, west on Coral Reef Drive, past the MetroZoo toward the farm lands of west Dade County. From the corner of his eye, he caught a glimpse of a bright orange jogging suit loping across the roadway. The confused jogger froze and faced the oncoming headlights. Before Danny could react,, the body tumbled over his windshield leaving it cracked and smeared with blood.

"Shit," Joe Bob hollered. "You killed that fucker."

Adrenalin pumped like oil rigs through their veins as the wind roared through the windows.

"Joe Bob, come on, we gotta stop." Danny was screaming at his buddy, huffing and panting like he'd run a sprint.

"No fucking way man. We're in the clear now."

Virtually all police units within a five mile radius were either in pursuit or positioned, ready to go. The flashers were in the distance now and none were coming toward them. Through the rear view, it seemed two cruisers had stopped where they slammed into the jogger. Danny turned the volume down on the radio and hung a quiet left into the back of a school yard then across the playing field of a baseball diamond. He cut the lights and turned slowly onto a dark residential street. They figured the coast was clear as sirens passed them by. "Come on, Danny," whispered Joe Bob. "Head for the turnpike."

"No fuckin' way, you're crazier than shit. I'm outa here."

"You ain't goin' nowhere without me." Joe Bob tilted his head back and looked down his nose. "You got that?"

As always, Danny backed down and turned two corners before hitting the accelerator again. No flashers. No cops. No sirens. "Hit it Danny boy! We made it."

With the lights off, Danny turned cautiously onto a southbound avenue then east. Joe Bob was chomping at the bit to bring it back to a hundred one more time. He smacked the dash, "What the fuck are you doing Danny boy?"

"I'm bailing out, Joe Bob. You can have this fucking car."

Danny looked left and right and saw a sign, Holy Trinity Church of West Perrine, and turned into the rear parking lot near a dark vacant field. Minutes later, headlights and flashers from three cruisers suddenly appeared from three directions.

"Ah... fuck!" exclaimed Joe Bob. "Gun it Danny, let's go."

"Let's give up, Joe Bob."

A swarm of police cars screeched toward them, headlights blinding. Joe Bob yanked a Smith and Wesson nine millimeter semi-automatic from his waist, whirled in his seat, extended his left arm through the passenger window and fired four shots in rapid succession at the cops, screaming, "Goddamit Danny, move it! I ain't goin' back to jail. Now!"

Joe Bob was dominant. In a knee-jerk reaction, Danny floored the pedal once more and spun out across the vacant field, hoping the car would bog down in a sand pit. "What the fuck are you doing, you asshole?" Danny screamed. Joe Bob fired another two shots from the window as the flashers took pursuit. It was a fast and bumpy ride across the palmetto field until they reached the next artery where Danny fishtailed out only to find another police car setting up a roadblock at Naranja Road and Eureka Drive. Danny saw two officers to the side under an amber street light in kneeling positions extending their pistols. The 442 crashed through at seventy miles per hour taking the green and white's right rear fender with it. Then, staccato sounds; crack! crack! crack! Quivering, Danny peered in the mirror again, spun a right on to Eureka and pleaded with Joe Bob, "Hey man, this is crazy, we can't keep this up, we're gonna die for Christ's..." He felt Joe Bob lean heavily against his right shoulder, then saw his entire head was covered with blood. When he looked closer, brain matter was oozing from a gaping wound. "Oh my God, my God... oh no!" Danny shoved Joe Bob's body toward the passenger door, head resting on the open window, mouth agape, eyes fixed, motionless. Joe Bob's adventure was over. "Danny screamed aloud. "No! No! No!" He was nearly to Krome Avenue, a north-south rural artery abutting the Everglades. He applied the brakes, sobbing, "Oh Jesus, No!"

The glaring motion of red, blue and w hite lights flashed into his mirror as the police cruiser approached his rear bumper. He thought of gunning it one more time. At least three cruisers had closed in. He looked once more at the hideous corpse of his buddy flopping against the door window, drenched in blood. This was bad, real bad. Numb, frightened and confused, he found himself going slower until he reached Krome. A man's voice blared into the darkness. "Stop the car and put your hands on the wheel! You are under arrest!"

He slowed to twenty, crossed Krome and removed his hands from the wheel to cradle his face. That's when he rammed into a telephone pole. For a brief moment, Danny actually felt relieved obeying the officer's order. As he glanced pathetically toward his dead buddy, he heard the clamor of shuffling footsteps rushing near. Suddenly, powerful hands grabbed his ears, tugging, wrenching. Excruciating pain ripped the sides of his head as his body was pulled head first through the window.

"Ooouuuch! Hey guys, I give up! I give up!" he screamed, pleading. Before he could utter another sound, two of them grabbed and pulled him to the ground. His gut caved in to the force of swinging fists and shoes as he tried to protect his head.

The lights were blinding. As he pulled away defensively, he heard a male voice say, "Get him. He's resisting." There was no chance to reply.

Another shouted from a distance, "This fucker is dead."

Another car pulled up. A man with a deep southern drawl was heard directly over him, "Go on Buck, you git on outa heah. Go on."

The figures of two more men raced toward him but they had no faces, only voices cursing and screaming into his sore ears, grabbing his arms. Pain wracked his entire body as hard leather shoes and night sticks slammed his face, his ribs, his groin and his stomach.

"Please, please ... I give up, no ... no, don't please."

He heard one car pull away, then another arrive, skidding. He felt his eyes swell nearly shut as the voices grumbled on.

"You son of a bitch...

"Mother fucker..."

"Piece of shit, punk."

"Asshole."

"Let me at him one time."

Danny was on the dirt street, rolling and twisting, trying to show he was submissive. "Don't hit me, please." Each time he tried to rise up on hands and knees, the deep raspy voice with the southern drawl shouted, "He's tryin' to git away. Git 'im!"

A cacophony of police radios squawked in the background while his ribs were crushed under the force of size twelve boots. Grunting, writhing anci raising his hands, he pleaded for mercy. He spat filth from his tongue as pavement grit covered his face like sandpaper.

As the beating subsided, Danny lay a helpless pulp under the blinding glare. After a short pause in the excitement, he felt another kick against his already broken ribs. "Ooooh."

Danny hoped it was finally over as he cowered on the pavement. Then he heard another car skidding to a halt. A door slammed. A booming voice with a Spanish accent shouted angrily, "Where is that mother fooker?" Footsteps hurried closer and closer.

"Easy Carlos, he's had enough," bellowed the deep drawl.

"Come on man," said another, "he's done, cool it."

Footsteps halted next to his head when he as a brief scuffle ensued between the cops. "Easy Carlos, cool it," he heard one say as they gasped for breath. The Spaniard ranted on, "You mother fooker!" Through the only eye he could see with, he looked up at the silhouette of a large man holding a bat in both hands preparing to swing.

It was his final image.


©2000 Marshall Frank

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