Tuesday, March 9, 2021

Remnant: Crazy Mary

Jim Cooper’s plan was pretty simple.

He had two working sewage lift pumps and a bunch of cans that were filled and sewage was backing up into houses.

He was going to pump the can dry. Hoist out the two, jammed-up pumps and replace them with one working pump. The two jammed-up pumps were going to the barn to get fixed.

Then he was going to line the top of the vault with Jersey Barriers and top with pre-cast, pre-stressed concrete slabs that would require heavy equipment to move.

He already had a crew pumping out the second vault and he had twice the manpower on-site as he really needed. The extras were there for training.

After repairing the two stations Jim would have four extra pumps in various stages of repair. He could double that number again in the next go-round and have eight, ready-to-go pumps at which time he wouldn’t have the manpower or portable pumps to increase the number of vaults that could be addressed on any given day.

If-and-when things slowed down, the crews could go back and install the second, redundant pump.

The incoming bullets continued to be an issue as the first vault was pumped out.

The shooters appeared to be in two teams. The teams infiltrated across the railroad tracks and commence firing from the corner of one of the industrial buildings.

By the time the squad car had peeled out of the work area they had emptied their magazines and were hoofing it back across the railroad tracks which were an absolute no-go for the squad car. There was little rhyme or reason to which direction the incoming fire would come in from. Fortunately, their aim was incredibly poor.

The cops in the squad-cars were doubled up in the forlorn hope that the non-driver might be able to unass and catch the shooters on foot. Since there appeared to be two shooters and it was the shooter's home-turf, the cops were unwilling to leave the relative safety of the squad car and run into a potential ambush.

The chopper was grounded due to the number of bullet holes in the structure.

It was proving to be a grueling day for the city cops.

“Hey? Isn’t that Crazy Mary?” the rider asked as the squad car blasted north one more time.

The driver reached out with his right hand and firmly clamped it on his riders mouth. Both were wearing body-cams with sound and there were some things you just didn’t say out loud.

“No, that must be somebody who looks like her” the driver contradicted.

But it couldn't be because NOBODY looked like Crazy Mary.

Crazy Mary had appeared in Deliotte about six months ago. Most street people were decamping to southern cities for the winter and here showed up Crazy Mary.

Most street people have emotional issues. Crazy Mary was in a category of her own. She didn’t seem to self-medicate which was the norm but she was crazy, crazier and craziest.

She wore a half-dozen pajama bottoms, one over the other, and they all smelled of stale urine. She wore two men’s parkas that were strapped about her torso with an ever-changing cast of men’s belts. Nobody dared speculate the origins of the men’s belts. She wore crocs on her feet and spent her days collecting aluminum cans and dredging partially smoked cigarettes and cigars out of the gutters.

The first time the rider in the squad-car had interacted with Crazy Mary was when she had been a possible witness in a gangland shooting. The rider quickly figured out that he needed to interview her outside, while standing upwind.

A large, black woman, Mary continuously tongue-thrust while under stress. Her mumbles were unintelligible and wandering. The only time she seemed lucid was when she was humming or quietly singing church hymns in French which seemed to calm her. She was right at the raggedy edge of where the cop would have felt compelled to take her off the street for her own safety.

Except he would have to give her a ride in his squad-car.

He decided that she would probably head south with the approaching winter or move into one of the shelters and they would clean her up and look after her. Except he was wrong. She had someplace to sleep that didn’t force unwanted hygiene on her. She did not move south. She overwintered in cold, snowy downtown Deliotte.

Which made her appearance by Jim’s can notable because Crazy Mary had never been sighted south of the University...and yet there she was!

If the cops had the time, they would have seen Crazy Mary being Crazy Mary. She randomly wandered around looking for recyclables. Since smoking indoors was banned by the State, every workplace had a designated smoking area. The melting snowbanks were liberally littered with partially smoked stubs of cigarettes and the like. Crazy Mary cooed with joy as she swooped down on them after grabbing an ancient zip-top bag from her shopping cart. Her upper body bobbing back-and-forth at the hips, she began picking them up and shoveling them into the bag.

On the only building with a flat roof, the shooting team waited beneath the flattened out refrigerator box they had brought top-side with them. They couldn’t see anything.

Travis and Dean were both from Washington County. Both had gone to academy together and both were Third shifters. Unlike most cops, they were really into firearms. Guns were just a stage prop. Guns were a core part of their lives. They shot competitively on their “off” days. They hunted.

Travis and Dean’s presence on the roof was not sanctioned by the police department. Travis and Dean had heard about the shooters on the south end of town declaring open-season on cops and muni workers and they decided to do something about it. Something permanent.

Working third shift for extended periods warps a man. Midnight shift is self-referential since it has almost no interaction with the other shifts. Perpetually sleep deprived, it was a wonder that they didn’t make more sub-optimal decisions than they did.

Rules-of-engagement that seemed to almost make sense looked like total ca-ca on third shift. Of course, nobody who had political or career ambition ever willingly worked third-shift. It is where careers went to die. It was a classic case of the Emperor’s New Cloths. Travis and Dean were as ambitions as anybody but they were young and foolish. There were a lot of things they had not figured out.

One of the things they were figuring out now was that there were no good shots from the roof they were on. Tactically, it was the only roof that provided concealment from the ground but the curvature of the road and the shingling of the buildings between their position and the “can” cock-blocked them.

Furthermore, to maintain their hide, they could only risk quick glimpses over the railing because if they could see the ground, then people on the ground could see them.

Listening to the clicks of static on their cheap, hand-held radio Travis said “Ok, she says they are coming again. At the first shots, Dean popped his head up and looked for the shooters. Once again, no dice.

Mixed in with the rapid bwap-bwap-bwap of 9mm being sent downrange as quickly as fingers could pull triggers were four sharper, louder reports. Then silence. Then the sound of the squad-car’s tortured tires as it screamed up the curvy road trying to run down the shooters one more time.

This time it was different.

Crazy-Mary was calmly picking up the shooter’s spent brass, humming a spiritual. The shooters were down, both men with two bullet holes stitched between their shoulder-blades. There was nobody else in sight.

A quick interview revealed that Crazy Mary hadn’t seen anything.

After the squad-car pulled away, Crazy Mary (born Marie Etienne in Haiti) finished picking up the brass and put the baggie. Dead people didn’t bother Crazy Mary as long as they weren’t family or Voodoo. She had seen plenty of them after the earthquakes.

After collecting all of the brass, she put the bag into the bag of cans on top of her shopping cart, right next to the AR pistol. Marie had been in the Police Academy class of FALL, 2019 along with Dean and Travis. She agreed that sometimes cops had to take care of business, especially when it came to taking care of family.

If keeping management informed got in the way of that...well, there are many things management did not need to know. 


  1. It's not really a problem, it's a opportunity in disguise, don't you know?

  2. Hiding in plain sight. It is effective and has worked since at least medieval days.

  3. I like the problem-solving aspect, but at some point that same mindset gets you death squads.

    1. Yeah if this was a case of removing political opponents then sure. However, backing sewer up into homes and taking the overall collection system down is a direct action against health and safety that WILL kill as surely as a bullet.

  4. Hmmm . . . and why were those shooters there . . .


Readers who are willing to comment make this a better blog. Civil dialog is a valuable thing.