Last Call for Buzz Nettle by Chris McCartney

Cocooned in Portland Police SWAT gear, I regripped my MP5 submachine gun and commenced the kid in a snowsuit waddle across the rear parking lot. Fubar this and I’d probably urban legend the security guard in addition to destroying my career. I had a hunch he’d be outside the mall, as far from the kill zone as he could get.

Bingo: there he was, urinating on the side of a dumpster. Undetected and ten feet out, I read the sloppy tag. Horrible dickmanship. Classic example as to why schools no longer taught cursive writing. Plus, the bastard spelled my name wrong. I keyed the bullhorn and shouted, “Buzz Nettle. You’re under arrest for indecent exposure.”

He spun around. I guess the shame of getting busted by a one hundred ten pound, thirty-four year old woman cop with two kids never got forwarded to his brash little pecker, which seemed stuck on dribble. “Shit. You made me piss all over my hand, you bitch. Why the hell you dressed like that? It ain’t Halloween.”

“Save your crap for the toilet. Just fill me in.”

“Fat chance, sweetcakes. Where’s Capelli?”

“Setting up a perimeter. They’ll be good to go in about five.”

“Yeah, five years.” he grinned. “Put me in charge and this’d be over by now.”

“Is that why you’re hiding back here?”

“If I’m hiding, how’d you find me?”

“Look, I don’t want to play your stupid games. I was told to track you down and get some questions answered.”

“That’s a damn shame, because you’re getting nothing from me.”

“We’ll see about that.”

“Zip the flaps, Sherlock. I ain’t talking to no female robo-cop. Especially one wearing my badge.”

“Jesus, Buzz. Get over it.”

“Like hell, I will. How many guys you blow to make Sergeant?”

“How many times you wash out of the academy?”

“Them instructors blackballed me. Everybody knows it. But, Capelli, he don’t see it that way.”

“Then take it up with the Captain when this is over. What’s going on in there?”

“In where, Officer Perez?”

My stainless steel baton plinked a trench from his ear to his yak-hole. A pint bottle popped off his duty belt and shattered on the asphalt. I knew I’d crossed the line, but if today ended up being my last day on the job, so be it. “Maybe the whiskey will jog your memory.”

“Fuck off. I only had a couple swigs. You owe me a jug.”

“By the way, wiseass, Perez doesn’t have an A in it.”

“Like I give a shit?” He reached for a yellow-handled taser gun. “I’m unarresting myself and arresting you for striking a fellow officer.”

It’s hard to explain the satisfaction I felt after penalty-kicking his nut sack. Payback for the mound of false complaints he’d filed against me over the last decade. I wanted to crack him again for the time he paid some nimrod to slash my tires. There were tears in my eyes when I spat, “We’re not fellow officers. You’re not a cop and never will be. Want some more of me, Buzz?”



“Leave me alone,” he winced.

“Then start talking.”

“Well… there’s a Shooter in the mall.”

“I know that. You called it in.”

“Problem is, I don’t know which one.”

“More than one?”

“At least a dozen.”

“A dozen! Inside the mall?”

“No, inside my hairy ass.”

I whacked his ribcage with the butt of my MP5. “Level with me.”

“I am,” he coughed. “Jeezus, stop hitting me. He ain’t supposed to be in there.”

“Who?”

“Shooter.”

“Of course not. That’s why we’re here.”

“What if I got the wrong guy? I’m gonna feel pretty stupid. They all look alike. Them pointy old chins. And they got heads shaped like ice cream cones.”

“You’re not making any sense.”

“Because you ain’t listening. When I seen him on the escalator, I called it in.”

“Hostages?”

“Nope.”

“Does he want money?”

“I’m sure he does. Owes money to practically everyone in town.”

“Is he armed?”

“Heck, he wouldn’t hurt a fly.”

“Look, you moron. We’re in lock-down and a dozen men are ready to light this place up. Why’d you call 911?”

“Restraining order says he can’t be on mall property.”

“You said there was a shooter in the building.”

“Affirmative. Always hassling them kiosk girls. Taking free samples. Spitting chew into paper cups. I want you to throw the book at him. I never want to see Audley Shooter in my mall again.”

The weight of my body armor wafted away. Grilling an idiot is like washing your panties in the sink. No matter how putrid the chore, they always come clean. I smiled for the first time in months. “Remember what the Captain told you about nine-one-one calls?”

“One more time and I’m history.”

“Close. More like one more bogus call and you’re going to jail.” I took off my Kevlar tactical helmet, gave him a matronly look and said softly, “Okay, Buzz, I’ll cut you a deal. But this stays between you and me. Okay?”

“I’m listening.”

“Give me your badge right now and I’ll tell Capelli to stand down. You go straight home and I’ll make sure this never happened.”

His security company badge clanked at my feet. He unhooked the nylon duty belt, impressively gadgeted with online purchases, and forked it over. “I could still sue your ass.”

“And I could submit the audio of this conversation as evidence. I don’t think a judge would be too sympathetic to a pissing in public, drunk security guard, who called in a false alarm that cost taxpayers thousands of dollars.”

I watched him skulk toward the bus stop, then called the Captain. Caught him on some Maui golf course, a week into a long overdue vacation with his family. He congratulated me for convincing Buzz Nettle to pursue a new line of work. It felt good to know the Captain had my back.


McCartney has been sacked by several powerful organizations for his inability to brown-nose and goat-logic problem solving skills. He lives near an abandoned field where he grows duct tape. His first abomination appeared recently in The Story Shack.