Halloween Patrol

By Trish Kocialski


In the Metro Police Mounted Patrol (MPMP) Ready Room, the night patrol teams were entering and sitting in rows of chairs waiting for their night’s assignments.  The large map of the parks and residential areas they would be covering was on the back wall.  On the map was the layout of the communities that had been planned to be incorporated into the park system.  It was a new but challenging Eco-friendly design for residential areas bordering large metropolitan cities.  If this design went well, the next few years would see them popping up around more cities.  The park/residential design looked like a large wagon wheel with five spokes per wheel.  There were four of these wagon wheel areas grouped in a square of land just south of the city proper.  Each of the “spokes” held 60 homes, 30 backyards to backyard down the center of the spoke, with the access roads to the homes on the outer edges of the spoke. Each street on the spoke was named after a national park.  The “wheel” circled the entire community with a boulevard for access to each spoke.  The “hub” and the spaces in between each spoke was designated parkland, all connected by walking, biking, and equine trails and underpasses where roadways crossed the landscape.  This design allowed each house to have access to the park and various trails, right across the street from their home. The “hubs” of the wheel were over a mile in diameter and contained, playgrounds, ballfields, an amphitheater, community pool, picnic areas, fishing lakes and lots of trees to shade the trails and amenities within.  No hub was the same, allowing residents to choose the type of park they preferred.  The MPMP was located in the middle of the square for equal access to each wheel.  It housed the MPMP offices, a small lock-up, barns, stables and fields for their 50+ herd of horses.  It was also a regular police station with six police cruisers that covered the outer roads and were on call for residential areas.

Captain Kelly Smitha entered the room to a series of whoops and whistles.  She was dressed as the Lone Ranger, mask and all.  “All right, settle down, settle down.” 

Following her into the room was Lieutenant Candice Holliday dressed as Tonto which elicited more whoops and whistles.  Candice folded her arms across her chest and gave them all a death stare after which they immediately quieted.

Once they settled back down, Captain Smitha walked to the podium.  “I see you all took the Mayor’s memo seriously for tonight’s patrol.”  She looked around the room and smiled at the various costumes selected by them.  They still had their normal duty belts, radios, and safety gear, but otherwise were dressed per the Mayor to make this year’s Halloween a more ‘festive atmosphere for the residents in ‘Parkland.’  “Let’s keep everyone safe and happy,” she said as she lifted the assignment sheet and gave it to Peter Malloy, the night desk sergeant who unlike the rest of the gathered police, was not in costume.

Malloy took the sheet and stepped to the podium to a smattering of ‘boo’s’ and ‘is that your real costume?’  Malloy looked the group over with a big smile then started to rattle off the night’s assignments.

“Matt Dillion and Chester will take section one.”  He looked up for the next pair.  “Roy Rogers and Dale Evans have section two.”  Looking the group over he shook his head.  “Pancho and Cisco will have section three and Brett and Bart Maverick will patrol section four.”  “Wyatt Earp and Doc Holliday with assist sections one and two, and “Hoss and Little Joe” with assist with sections three and four.  Remember that two of the residential areas in section four are still under construction but check them anyway.  Same for the rest of you lot with houses still for sale.  Don’t want any ‘tricksters’ doing damage.  You never know what Halloween will bring.  Oh, and forget your normal call signs.  Tonight, your sign is your character.”  He looked over his shoulder and flicked his head toward the Captain and Lieutenant, “the Lone Ranger and Tonto will be circulating the entire area if you need assistance with anything.”  He looked up at the group.  “Any questions?  If not, mount up!”

The group chatted with their partners and assisting partners as they dispersed and headed to the stables where their mounts where readied by the stable crews.  When they ran into the mounted officers returning from their shifts, they received their share of hoots and hollers for their chosen costumes.

As Smitha and Holliday walked to the stables, Smitha noted a frown on her lieutenant’s face.  “What’s up with the frown?” Smitha asked.

“I hate Halloween.  And I hate this costume!”

Smitha knew that putting Holliday in a Tonto costume wasn’t the best choice, but she knew Doc Holliday was already take by Officer Johns.  “Well we couldn’t have two Doc Holliday’s out there…it could be confusing.”

“Yeah, I know, but Kelly, you’re the boss, couldn’t you have asked him to change it?”

“Nah, needed their cooperation for the Mayor’s memo, so better they get to wear something they want.”

Holliday was still frowning and muttering, “I hate Halloween.”

Smitha chuckled and said, “Have anything to do with your Mom naming you Candy?” to which she got a friendly slap to the abs from Holliday.  “Well, it’s only for one night.  If it turns out to be a disaster, I’m sure the Mayor will dump the idea for next year.”

“Yeah?  What if it’s a success with the citizens of Parkland?  Are we going to have to dress up as Santa and his elves at Christmas?  Or Cupid and Aphrodite on Valentine’s?”

Smitha stopped and looked Holliday head to toe.  “You’d make a mighty interesting Aphrodite!” This comment resulted in a poke in the ribs.

“Yeah, you’d make a pretty awesome Cupid too,” she said starting to giggle at the thought.

“Seriously, this holiday has our citizens out in the streets going from door to door.  Those other holidays don’t so I don’t think it will be an issue,” Smitha said as they reached their horses.  The horses at least were not costumed and would still be recognized as Police mounts.  “C’mon, let’s mount up and see what our citizens are up to.”


Two hours into the shift everything was going well.  Smitha and Holliday had just exited the underpass connecting sections two and three and headed down the equine trail opposite the homes on the first street when an older woman came running up to them.

“Officers!” she shouted and waived at them to come to her.  She seemed very agitated, so they led their horses off the trail and across the street.

“Yes, ma’am.  What’s the problem?” Holliday asked as she dismounted and took out her note pad.

“There’s this group of three boys that are defacing homes if no one answers the door,” she said quickly and pointed down the street where there were at least thirty children walking.  “They took out spray paint and painted ‘BOO!’ on my door!” She said angrily and pointed at her house.

Sure enough, there was the word painted in neon green paint across the door of the house she was pointing to.

“You didn’t answer the door?” asked Smitha.

“No, I ran out of treats early.  I wasn’t expecting so many children this year.  Last year there were barely ten children at my door.”

“Yes, ma’am.  This street was the last to fill up last year,” Smitha said nodding.

“I guess I didn’t think of that,” the old woman said.  “I’m not a mean person, I just wasn’t prepared so I shut off my lights after I ran out of treats.  I was still in my living room reading, when I hear the knock, but stayed in my chair until I heard those boys yelling obscenities.  Then I heard a hiss and laughter.”  She shook her head.  “I got up and looked out my window and saw them leave.  Then I went to the door to see if I could figure out why they were laughing.  Some kids just have a nasty streak, I guess.  When I opened the door, I saw the fresh paint…it was still dripping.  The boys turned back and looked at the house, but when they saw me, they took off running down the street.”  She pointed again at the throng of children down the street.

“Do you see if they had on costumes?” Holliday asked as she was taking down the woman’s statement.

“Yes, they did.  They were all dressed alike, almost like astronaut suits.  It looked like those disposable suits the painters wear.  They had no helmets but a red circle with a line through it was drawn on the chest.  There was something in the circle, but I couldn’t tell what it was.”

Smitha and Holliday looked at each other and said, “Ghost Busters?”

“Yes!  That’s it!  I watched that movie with my grandkids last week.”

Smitha mounted her horse.  “I’ll ride ahead, join me when you finish her statement.  Hopefully there won’t be too many Ghost Busters in the crowd.”  She gave her horse a nudge with her heals and went hunting the trio.  Just as she spotted them, Holliday joined her. 

“They look pretty big to be trick or treating.” Holliday said as she spotted the trio.  “Fits Mrs. Gardini’s description.  After you left she remembered they looked big for their age.”

Smitha nodded, “Probably teenagers looking for more tricks than treats.  Go right.  I’ll go left.  Let’s round up these boys.”

As they split away from each other, one of the boys turned around and saw the mounted police homing in on them.  “Guys!” he said, “I think the old lady called the cops on us.” 

The other two looked over their shoulder and the taller of the three said, “Woods…head to the woods..now!”  And they took off running.  “Head to the pine tree section.  The horses will have a tougher time there.”

As soon as the boys took off running Smitha pulled her radio mike off her belt.  “Lone Ranger requesting Hoss and Little Joe, to leave your current location and move to Section Three, between Yellowstone and Big Bend Road.”

“Copy Lone Ranger,” came back Hoss. 

“Keep your eyes out for three teens dressed as Ghost Busters,” she added “Tonto and I are coming in from mid Arches Road.

“Copy that.  We’re coming across from Section Four, Denali Lane.  May take us a bit to get to you.”

“Okay, let us know when you’re close.”  Smitha reclipped her radio mike to her belt and nudged her horse into a gallop.  This section of Parkland was filled with more aggressive terrain in the spoke sections.  Hills, stone outcroppings, and lots and lots of pine trees surrounding the various trails.  The hub in this section had a stocked fishing lake instead of a community pool.

“Looks like they’re headed into the Pine area,” Holliday called out as she the saw the boys scattering into that section of park.

“Smart.  They know we’ll have to take it slower with the horses in there,” Smitha agreed.  “It’s also got some great places to hide in the rocky outcrops.”

“Yeah, we could easily lose them and if they cross into the construction area of section four we might need more help to find them.”

“Okay, slow and easy.  We don’t want the horses hurt,” Smitha cautioned.

Holliday nodded her head and picked her way slowly through the pines and listened to the rushing steps of the boys fading out.


North of Parkland in the maze of city streets, three men were huddled at the back door of Opperman’s Jewelry store that had closed early that day.

“Mike, you’re sure that Greg turned off the alarm system before he left?” asked Frank.

Mike nodded his head as he kept adjusting the picks on the lock he was working on.  The door had three sets of deadbolt locks and he was now on the second one.

“What’s taking so long, Mike.  You said it would be a piece of cake to pick those locks,” Frank asked as he held the small flashlight on the lock.  It wasn’t dark out yet, but the alleyway was narrow and in dark shadows so the light was needed.

“Shut the fuck up Frank and just hold the light steady,” Mike growled as the second lock clicked open.  “There!  Two down, one to go!”

Ed came running softly down the back alley from his lookout position.  “Hide! Patrol car coming down the street!” he said as he jumped behind a dumpster.  The other two men stopped and joined him hugging the wall.

 Mike looked at Frank and smacked him hard across the back of his head.  “Turn off the damn flashlight you idiot!”

Frank quickly fumbled with the lights switches barely getting it shut off before the police cruiser came into view.  It slowed to check the alleyway.  Sensing nothing out of place, the car moved on.

The three men slowly moved away from the dumpster after a pause of a minute to be sure the cop car was far away. 

“Go check,” Mike said to Ed as he pointed back up the alleyway.  When he got the thumbs up from Ed, he resumed work on the final lock.  Two minutes later, Mike was opening the back door.  “Okay, let’s go get some bling and don’t touch anything!” he warned staring directly at Frank.


All the expensive jewelry was locked in the big safe in the back office.  Ed stayed at the back door, staying out of sight to watch for cops while Mike set to work on the safe.  Frank went to the show room and ostensibly was watching for cops.  After 15 minutes, Frank got bored and walked around the show room, looking in all the cases.  Most were empty, but a few still had items like less expensive watches, earrings and necklaces.  He saw a very shiny heavy chain necklace with a skull and cross bone pendant and smiled greedily.

As Frank was looking, Mike finally got the safe open and was dumping the contents of trays into three backpacks.  He called the guys for help with the backpacks just as Frank decided to open the display case and snatch the necklace putting it over his head and then went to help Mike.  What Frank didn’t know was that opening the display case had tripped the silent alarm.

“All units in the vicinity of 43rd and Blakemore.  Silent alarm at Opperman’s Jewelry.  Proceed with lights, no siren,” came the order from Metro dispatch.

“Copy,” came the reply from three police cruisers in the area as they hit their lights and headed to the scene.

Mike and Ed already had their backpacks on when Frank came into the back office.  As Mike handed him his backpack he noticed the shiny necklace.  “Where’d you get that?” he asked gruffly.

“The showroom,” he said as he fingered the necklace.  “Nice huh?”

“Was it in a display case or on top of a display case?” Mike asked afraid of the answer.

“It was in one, why?”

“You damn fool,” Mike said smacking Frank behind his head.  “You just tripped the silent alarm!  What part of ‘don’t touch anything’ did you not understand?”

Frank just looked blankly at Mike as Mike grabbed his jacket and hauled him to the back door.  “C’mon, we got to get out of here fast!”

They carefully checked the alleyway then slipped out, shutting the back door behind them.  Looking out to the street, they saw that there were no cops…yet…so they calmly walked out on the sidewalk toward their car.  Just as they got in, two cop cars came from opposite sides of the street, lights flashing, and screeched to a halt nose to nose, in front of the shop.  A third car was coming up the alleyway from the opposite side the trio of thieves had exited from and stopped at the back door.  All the officers got out, guns drawn, flashlights peering into the shop.

“Scrunch down,” Mike ordered as soon as he saw the cop cars approaching.  He looked at his rearview mirror and watched the cops checking the building waiting for an opportunity to flee.

The cops in the alleyway checked the back door and found that it was unlocked.  The cops out front were checking the front door and peering in the windows when one of the alley cops motioned the back door was open.  Three of the front cops went back and left one cop to guard the front in case the thieves came out that way.

“Now’s our chance,” he said as he put the key in the ignition and started the car.

At the sound of the car starting and careening into the street, the cop on front door duty ran out into the street and barely saw the car speeding away.  He called his partner assuming the thieves were in the car.  The pair of cops from the other vehicle out front also came out of the back door.

“We’ve got runners out here,” he shouted as he got into the patrol car and started the engine.  His vehicle was pointed in the opposite direction so by the time he got it turned around and his partner jumped in, both cars were now in pursuit.  The third car in the alley stayed behind to secure the area and wait for the crime scene crew to show up and then the owner to identify what was taken.

The two pursuit vehicles called in for backup as they lost sight of the getaway car.  The only had a sketchy ID of the car since it was moving out of view by the time the first officer ran into the street to see them leaving.  Basically, all the ID they had was a black sedan that was burning rubber smoke obscuring the plates and possibly a busted right tail.  Dispatch put out the APB and all cars in the area began scouting for the suspect vehicle.

“We’ve covered the entire area between Yellowstone and Arches Roads and Pancho and Cisco are rechecking Section Three to see if they got around behind us.” Smitha sighed as she stood in her stirrups and looked around the area.  “You guys didn’t see them as you crossed into our section?” she asked Hoss and Little Joe.

“Nothing.  Just some rabbits and a few deer,” Hoss replied.

“Okay, let’s head over to the construction site.  If we come up empty there, we’ll head back and check for any other ‘tricked out’ homes.”

Holliday nodded then added, “Let’s hope we find them otherwise it’s door to door tomorrow asking parents about teens that dressed as Ghost Busters.”


“Where are we going Terrance?  We already ditched the cops.”  Will looked around as if to make sure the mounted police hadn’t followed.

Terrance looked at his friends Willard and Bart, who was still climbing up the path.  “We can’t go back yet.  I’m sure they’ll be looking for us on the streets until the little kids all go home.”  Terrance looked around getting his bearings.  “We’ll go to a house I know over on Kings Canyon and hide our stuff there.  They won’t be able to recognize us without these costumes.”

Will grinned and teased, “Oooo, the one you and Tracy go to every night?”

Terrance shot Will a ‘shut the fuck up’ glare then looked over at Bart who hadn’t heard the snide comment made by Will.  In a whisper he said, “Bart doesn’t know about me and Tracy and I want to keep it that way.”  Will nodded and grinned when Terrance turned away.

“Follow me.”  Terrance jerked his head to the right and led them off in the growing darkness.  In ten minutes, they arrived at the far end of Kings Canyon and walked up the deserted street to the first nearly completed house on their left.  They entered through the garage which still didn’t have the garage door installed.


“Where are you going Mike?  The cops will find us on this open boulevard,” Ed asked as he looked quickly from window to window checking for cops.

“Do you see any following us?  Huh?” Mike stared ahead as he slowed to make the turn onto Kings Canyon Road.  “This area isn’t finished.  No cops.  They’re all busy with the little kiddies tonight.”

They drove down Kings Canyon to the last nearly completed home on the left.  Across the street was another nearly completed home but it didn’t have a garage door.  “Ed, go around to the back door then lift the garage door so I can pull in.”

“The back door will be unlocked?” Ed asked.

“It should be.  The construction guys have been leaving one unlocked to make their morning access easier.  If that one is locked, try the sliders.  I usually leave them unlocked after I install them.”

Frank piped up from the back seat.  “I didn’t know you worked construction Mike.”

“You don’t know a lot about me Frank.  Let’s just keep it that way, okay?”

“Yeah, sure Mike.  Whatever you say.”

Ed lifted the garage door manually and Mike pulled the black sedan in.  Across the street in the upper front bedroom, three sets of teenage eyes watched as the black sedan was hidden by the slowly lowering garage door.

“Well, it’s not the cops but who are they?” Bart asked with a squeaky voice.

“Hell if I know,” Terrance replied.  “Dad said the guys would be in tomorrow afternoon to work on these two houses.”

“Maybe they’re workers?” asked Will.

“If they are workers, they wouldn’t be driving into the garage, that’s for sure,” answered Terrance.  “Let’s get out of these Tyvek coveralls and check it out.  Dad said someone’s been pulling the copper and wiring out of some of the homes at night.  Maybe we can catch them in the act?”

“Maybe we should call your Dad first?” squeaked Bart.

“And if they’re legit workers Dad would be all over me for interrupting his poker game tonight.  No, let’s just check it out first.  We can get the plate number and descriptions of them first, then call Dad if they’re the thieves.”

“Hey, guys…” Bart said as he looked up from his iPhone.  “Somebody robbed my Dad’s jewelry store.  Boy, is he going to be ticked!”  He put the phone back in his front pocket and went over to where Will and Terrance were standing.  “He wants me home immediately so he can meet the cops downtown.”

Terrance nodded.  “Okay, as soon as we check these guys out.”

The teens pulled off their Tyvek coveralls and wadded them up setting them next to their bags of Halloween candy.  They quietly skirted around the new construction on their left then slipped across the street when they were out of view of any windows from the target house.  Once crossed, they stayed on the back side of the construction projects until they came up to the target house.  The door at the back of the garage was open so Terrance peeked in while the others huddled behind him.  Terrance noted the plate number and the cars make and model on his iPhone.  The door to the mud room was ajar and he could hear voices coming from the kitchen beyond.  He started to back out of the garage but hit a human wall. 

“Back up guys,” he whispered but they didn’t move.  He turned to see his friends wide eyed as Frank had a large hand around each neck.

Frank pushed the teens forward into the garage and then the mud room door.  As they entered the mud room, Frank called out.  “Hey Mike.  Look what I found on the way back from the porta potty.”

Mike watched the mud room door as the three teens were shoved forward into the kitchen.

“Crap,” Mike hissed.  “Where’d they come from?”

“They were looking into the garage.  This one,” he pushed Terrance against the framing that would become the kitchen island, “was putting something into his phone.”

Mike went over to the kid and held his hand out for the phone.  “Calling the cops?”

“No, no sir.  I…I just wrote down the make of your car and the license plate number.  That’s all,” Terrance stammered.  Then he stopped as he recognized the man.  “Oh, hey.  You’re Mike the window installer.  My Dad didn’t tell me you would be working late today.”  Sighing his relief as he assumed they were legit workers.  “We thought you might be the thieves that have been stealing the copper and wiring.”  He laughed.  “That’s why I took down your car information.”

Mike grabbed the phone and deleted the information.  He looked the kid over again.  “You’re Campbells kid, eh?”

“Yeah, my Dad is the site manager here.  I’m Terrance.”

“So, what are you doing here Terrance?  I’m sure your Dad wouldn’t want you roaming around the construction project at night.  I can be very dangerous at night.” Mike emphasized the very dangerous part.

“Oh, well, my friends and I….” he started but was interrupted by Bart who noticed a spread of jewelry on the plywood counter behind Mike.  Bart may have sounded wimpy, but he was exceptionally bright and quickly put the pieces together.

“We, uh, were going to meet some girls here tonight.  Across the street.” Bart said bravely making up a story.  “Uh, but they called and said their parents made them take their younger brothers and sisters trick or treating.”

Terrance looked at Will and nodded approval of Bart’s quick thinking.  He sure wouldn’t want his Dad to know they were hiding from the cops. 

“The girls cancelled on you, eh?” Ed asked.  “That’s got to be a shot to the ego!”  He laughed.  “So… nobody else is coming here tonight?”

Terrance thought a bit before answering.  “I don’t think so.  Nobody knows we come here except the three of us…and, and the girls of course.”

Mike turned and looked and the loot that was spread out over the plywood top of the soon to be kitchen counter.  Will and Terrance hadn’t noticed the jewelry until now and it took a few seconds before things started to sink in.

“Look, Mike,” Terrance began as he tried to back up but once again was stopped by Frank’s hand at his back.  “We’ll forget we saw that stuff.  Just let us go okay?  No one saw us come here.  We had on Halloween costumes.”

“Sure, sure.  And let you go running to the cops?” he paused, “Frank get the rope from the trunk.  I think our new friends are going to stay a while.”

Ten minutes later the teens were gaged and trussed up like rodeo cows in a back bedroom.

“What now Mike?” Ed asked when he came back from the bedroom.  “Think the kids were telling the truth about the girls not showing?”

“Who knows?  But we better get out of here.  I think the car may be too hot now.  No telling who that kid sent the license plate and description to.  I don’t trust him.”  They started collecting the jewelry into the backpacks.  “Frank, go check the house across the street.  Maybe we can use their costumes as a disguise while we find a vehicle we can jack.  Ed, go wipe down the car and ditch the plates in the dumpster out front.  Then wipe anything you think might have our fingerprints.”  He picked up the phone he took from Terrance tossed it on the floor and smashed it with the heel of his boot.


“What’s up Pete?” Smitha said responding to the desk sergeant’s call.

“Got a call from a parent.  Harold Opperman.  Turns out his jewelry store was robbed tonight.  He had to meet the crew downtown.  Problem is, he texted his son to come home to take care of his invalid mom, but the kid hasn’t shown up.  Luckily, he can track his son’s phone and he said it’s stationary on King’s Canyon Road over by the new construction.  He had to leave but is asking if someone can go get his son.”

“Got an address?” Smitha inquired.

“No address, just a location nearer the end of Kings Canyon than the beginning.”

“Okay, so somewhere in the middle.  That makes it a little tougher but close enough.”

Pete broke in again, “He’s really pissed because he told the cops downtown he’d be there thirty minutes ago.  Said the mom’s okay for a while, but really wants the kid home now.”

“Copy that.  We’re actually just entering the park across from Kings Canyon now.  Have a cruiser meet us there to pick up the kid.”

“Roger,” Pete replied.

“Wonder if he’s one of the kids we’re looking for,” Hoss asked.  “We may just get lucky and find three Ghost Busters!”

The four mounted officers nudged their horses into a trot on the equine trail connecting to Kings Canyon.


“Found their costumes,” Frank called as he entered the kitchen and laid them on the island frame.  “They had masks too. They were stuffed in the candy bags.  They got quite a haul!”  Frank held up three bags of candy.  “Good stuff too.”

“Grab a costume and put it on.  The backpacks will look like part of the costume.  Better take the candy too.  It wouldn’t look right not to have those with us.  In fact, put your guns in the candy bags…just in case.”  The three thieves got dressed and slipped out the back of the house.

“Which way?” Ed asked.

“This way, we’ll take the equine trail, it’s wider and we’ll be able to see if anyone is coming.  Hopefully we’ll just be lost Halloweener’s if anyone comes up the trail.”

Almost half way across the park trail, the three thieves heard the horses coming.  “Put your masks on and let me do any talking.”

“Well, well.  What do we have here?  Three Ghost Busters I presume?” Hoss said as he brought his horse around the trail and behind the trio.  Little Joe and Tonto took their steeds to the right and left sides leaving the Lone Ranger in front. 

“You boys lost?” Smitha asked politely.

“Uh, yes ma’am.” Mike said in a badly disguised voice which the mask actually helped make it believable.

“Which one of you belongs to Harold Opperman?” Smitha asked as she dismounted.

The men shook their heads in a negative response.

“Come on, Opperman.  Your Dad needs you home now!”

All three thieves started to raise their hand this time.

“Nice,” Hoss said.  “Sticking up for your buddy.”

Holliday was looking over the boys closely and something just didn’t to fit.  They were all wearing grubby work boots.  Not typical shoe wear for teenage boys.  Moving her horse a bit to hide her action she slowly pulled her service revolver and slipped off the safety.

Captain Smitha also had the hair on the back of her neck start to prickle as she dismounted.  She slipped her horses reins over his neck with one hand while concealing a similar motion with her service revolver with the other hand.

“How about we take the masks off boys?” Smitha said as she patted her horse’s neck still concealing her removed revolver.

Mike looked at his partners and lowered his head and slowly reached into his candy bag.  “How about some candy Lone Ranger?” he said as he dropped the bag and lifted his gun.

Hoss and Little Joe immediately went to draw their weapons as the sharp crack of Holliday’s gun pierced the night followed by a stream of obscenities as Mike pulled in his injured hand to his chest.  The other two thieves dropped their bags and raised their hands, quickly surrendering to the four weapons aimed at them. 

“Nice shot, Lieutenant,” commented Hoss.  “Straight from the hip?”

Holliday smiled and nodded then ordered, “You know the drill.  “Down on your knees, hands behind your head.”

Captain Smitha holstered her weapon as she walked over and ripped the masks off the three men.  “Well, well.  Not exactly who we were looking for.  Where are the boys?” she asked as she turned on the one with the injured hand whipping it and his other hand around his back and cuffing them.

Holliday dismounted while Hoss and Little Joe kept them covered and cuffed Frank, then caught Little Joe’s tossed cuffs and did the same to Ed.  As soon as they were all cuffed, Hoss and Little Joe holstered their revolvers and dismounted.

“Hmm, not exactly Halloween treats in these backpacks, Captain.”  Jerry (alias Little Joe) held up a handful of diamond rings. 

“Call in for three more cruisers to meet us on Kings Canyon Burt (alias Hoss), and an ambulance too.”

After reading them their rights, they got them back up on their feet and started marching them up the trail to the construction site.

“Where are the boys?” Smitha asked for the tenth time as they neared the site, anger evident in her voice.

Mike smiled and repeated.  “I want a lawyer.”

Exiting the park onto Kings Canyon they were greeted by the requested cruisers and ambulance.

“Lock ‘em up,” Smitha said to the officers waiting by their vehicles, then to the EMT, “That guy can wait until we find the boys.”

Once the thieves were locked in the cars, the rest of the police officers started searching the area and houses under construction. 

“Got ‘em!” shouted Jerry.  “They’re fine, just really scared.”  He led the boys over to Captain Smitha.

“Which one of you is Opperman?” she asked as the boys arrived.

“I am, ma’am,” he said stepping forward. 

“Normally, I’d take you in for questioning with your friends, but your mom needs you more right now.”  She paused for effect.  “But, don’t think you’re out of the woods yet.  Right now, this officer will take you home so you can be there for your mother.”

The initial relief he felt vanished as he walked with the officer to the cruiser.  Captain Smitha added, “I’ll see you…and your parents tomorrow.”

She asked the EMT crew to follow the cruisers to the MPMP where they could dress the injured thieves’ hand and had Jerry and Burt return to Halloween Patrol before turning her attention to the two remaining teens.

“So, busy night, huh boys?”  Holliday already had her note pad out ready to take their statements.  “How about we start with your names and addresses,” Smitha said as they walked toward the remaining squad car.

Terrance was the first to break the silence and Will filled in as they described everything that happened from the time the officers first set eyes on them.  They both praised George Opperman for his quick thinking that kept all mention of being followed by the police for their vandalism and they kept apologizing hoping upon hope that they could talk their way out of trouble.  After they went over everything three times and never changed their statements, Holliday snapped her note pad shut and led them to the police cruiser, putting them both in the back seat.

Smitha bent down resting her arms on the open passenger side window.  “Officer Flynn, when you drop these boys’ at their homes, tell the parents that I want to see both parents and the boys in my office at 10:00 tomorrow morning.”  As she started to stand she saw their Halloween bags on the front seat, reached in and grabbed two Snickers bars that were on the top.  “Guns out?” she asked the officer who nodded affirmatively. “Let them have their bags when they get home.”

“Sounds like George Opperman is a quick thinker and came up with a convincing story,” Holliday said as they walked back to their horses.  “If Terrance had told them about us looking for them, things could have turned out worse.”

“He seems sharp all right. But they’re still going to have some community service to complete for their vandalism…even though they indirectly led us to the jewel thieves.  Officer Flynn said there were five houses that had been spray painted.  We’ll see what kind of a reception we get when I talk to their parents tomorrow.  One never knows in this day and age how the parents will react to their child’s misbehavior.”

“Well, I know that I would not be looking forward to facing my parents if a police officer had to bring me home,” Holliday offered as she mounted her horse.

“Yeah, I wouldn’t be able to sit for a month if I did something like that.”  Smitha mounted her horse and joined Holliday by the trail.  “Hey, Holliday,” she said as trotted next to her and reached out with one of the Snickers bars.  “Have some candy, Candy!”

Holliday took the proffered bar and shook her head.  “I hate Halloween!”

The End