Another excerpt from a future novel (Safe From the War)


This is actually part two of the thus-far three book Proof of Our Resolve series. And, oddly enough, it’s the book I wrote first. This is from the same book as the car chase excerpt I published a couple months back. I’m not sure now if I’m going to release this book, because it might not help with the current debate about rights and freedom America is having. But who knows, maybe I should put it out there. It’s titled Safe From the War, and I’d like to hear what you guys think of the beginning. Thanks and hope you enjoy it.

Links to other chapters and excerpts are below:




“North patrol dispatch to 1243.”

Jerry Nunez knew what was coming. He had seen the call holding when he checked his patrol car’s computer a minute earlier and while he hadn’t avoided it, he hadn’t volunteered for it either. He picked up the radio mike, keyed it and said wearily, “1243, go ahead.”

“Family disturbance, 1803 Hanley, apartment A. Caller reports hearing a woman screaming. I’ll get you backup as soon as I find someone.”

Fuck. Another ghetto family disturbance call that I’m not in the mood for. Nunez wasn’t familiar with that address, but if it was a family disturbance at an apartment complex in North Houston, it was bullshit. After thirteen years in the ghetto, it seemed to Nunez that all the calls, even the real calls that involved guns and knives and dead gangsters, were bullshit.

“That’s clear, show me en route. And don’t bother anyone else, I’ll advise if I need backup.”

“That’s clear, thank you.”

Nunez pulled into a parking lot and turned the car around, then shifted side to side to get the weight of the duty belt off his hips for a few seconds. Years of pressure from the Sig Sauer pistol, spare magazines, radio, handcuffs and flashlight had left dark brown spots the size of fists on his hips, and he had recently begun to worry that his wife might find him unattractive because of them. He was in his late thirties, not very tall and not nearly as skinny as he had once been. His face was showing the stress of years spent alternating between sitting for hours in a police car, unexpectedly facing sudden threats of death or injury, and twice going off to war.

He took his time getting to this call. It wasn’t anything high priority, just another disturbance in the ‘hood, one of hundreds across Houston every night. He leisurely drove north toward Hanley, following the highway service road and running the license plate of any vehicle he saw, hoping he would find a stolen car or something else that was interesting enough to get him pulled off this call. After several minutes of driving, his radio beeped again.

“Dispatch to 1243.”

“1243, go ahead.”

“We just received a second call about that disturbance, from a different caller. Are you sure you don’t want me to get another unit for you?”

Nunez thought about it a second. Generally, he was of the opinion that you never turned down backup. But patrol had been stretched thin for years, and if he asked for a backup unit dispatch might have to pull someone from ten miles away and leave some other officer uncovered who might really need the help.

“1243 dispatch, nah, I’m good. I’ll advise as soon as I get there if I need someone. Thanks for looking out though.”

“Dispatch 1243, anytime.”

Nunez jumped on the freeway, took the first exit and then turned east onto 1700 Hanley. As he approached the stop sign separating 1700 Hanley from 1800 Hanley, the radio beeped again.

“Dispatch 1243, we just received a third call, this one says a female ran out of the apartment screaming and a male assaulted her and dragged her back inside. Who’s available to check by with 1243?” The dispatcher wasn’t asking Nunez this time, instead she was doing her job and getting a backup unit whether he wanted one or not.

“1243 dispatch, got it and I’ve arrived. You can get a unit en route, I’ll let you know if they can disregard.” Nunez looked to the right as he passed the stop sign, and saw the little apartment complex on side of the road, across the street from an old, shabby-looking church. This road was very quiet, and he didn’t remember ever seeing this complex. It was very neat and clean, and as he turned into the parking lot he saw that it consisted of only ten units. Five apartments were in one block facing east across the parking lot at a block of five apartments facing west. The block facing west held apartments A through E, with A on the left end as you faced the front doors. The light inside A was on but the porch light was off, and he saw and heard nothing coming from the apartment. The lone window, to the left of the apartment door, had closed Venetian blinds hanging inside.

Nunez drove further into the parking lot than he had to so he could park his car out of the immediate danger area in front of the apartment. He stopped the car and shut the engine and headlights off, leaving the parking lights on so any officers responding to back him up could easily spot the patrol car. He stepped out of the car and looked all the way around. Almost directly behind the car, at apartment F, four gangster-looking Hispanic teenagers slouched on the front porch. Apartment A was silent, with nothing there to demand his immediate attention, so he walked toward the teenage thugs behind his car. As he got closer he saw that all four of them had shaved heads and homemade tattoos on their forearms.

“Hey, we got a call out here about a disturbance, have you guys seen anything?” Nunez asked just in case they might actually be helpful, but he expected to hear the usual Naw, dog, we just got here.

“Yeah man, some guy was beating up a girl or something,” one of them answered. “We heard screaming and shit, and then she ran out the door, but the guy grabbed her and punched her a buncha times in the stomach and dragged her ass back inside. We was inside looking out the window, and when we got outside they was already back in the house, so we couldn’t do nuthin’. I’m the one that called though.”

“No shit,” Nunez said. “How long ago did this happen, that he dragged her back inside?”

“Uh, maybe 5 minutes ago. Not that long, y’all got here pretty fast.”

“Okay,” Nunez said. “What’d they look like, black, white, Mexican?”

“I don’t know, they’ve been around for a while but they speak some weird shit, like Russian or something. They’re both young, maybe in high school. They kinda look Mexican.”

“You ever see any guns or anything around there?”

“Naw, man,” the spokesman answered. “They stay inside and real quiet mostly, I’ve never seen nuthin’.”

“Alright, thanks,” Nunez said, “If you can stay here for a while, I might need your name for a report.”

The mini-thug nodded. Nunez turned and headed toward the front door to apartment A, and dispatch piped up on the radio again.

“Still need a backup unit for 1243.”

“1113, I got it. It’ll take me a little bit, I’m at the far west end of my beat.”

Nunez groaned silently. 1113 was officer Edward Calhoun, a young, violent, pissed off egomaniac who treated everyone like shit, whether they were turds or not, and was the kind of officer who could show up to a peaceful scene, turn the calm and cooperative into the angry and combative, and within five minutes twist the scene into a shit festival for everyone involved. Plus, he drove like a fucking idiot, and Nunez knew that Calhoun would be at this moment flying ninety miles an hour down quiet residential streets, sending any area residents who happened to be walking the streets fleeing into front yards in panic, sliding through intersections and leaving skid marks at every turn to get to 1803 Hanley.

Nunez had at first thought highly of Calhoun since he had been a Marine infantryman before joining the department and had some mad tactical skills and a lot of drive, but his abrasiveness and bad judgment had soured the initial good impression within a month. Nunez figured he better get this call figured out so he could call Calhoun off before he screeched sideways around the corner and started motherfucking everyone in sight.

Nunez approached the door, watching the window closely for shadows against the glass, eyes peering through gaps in the blinds, anything; he saw and heard nothing. The door had no windows built into it, and it was dirtier than the rest of the apartment’s exterior, with dirt streaked across it at waist level. He pulled his flashlight from his belt and strobed the door with it once.

The streaks were drying blood, not dirt. It looked as if someone had reached for the door with bloody fingers, smearing it from their hands as they were pulled inside. Nunez strobed again, looking at the doorstep this time.

Blood. Lots of it. Not in a pool, but scattered in large spots, each several inches across, those then surrounded by dozens of smaller drops, spread out over a six foot area. Red footprints covered the gaps between the larger spots of blood. The random pattern of the drops and the area they covered suggested to Nunez that there had been a violent struggle at the doorstep, rather than someone just standing still and bleeding at the door.

Looks like that little thug was actually telling the truth, Nunez thought. But the guy was stabbing her, not punching her. The blood was dark and thick, so Nunez recognized it as venous blood, what most untrained observers thought was arterial blood. Nunez knew from previous experience on the street, and from a bad incident in Afghanistan, that the girl was hurt bad but hopefully not badly enough to bleed out before help got there. Nunez reached for his radio shoulder mike and lifted his eyes back up from the doorstep.

Fingers were inside the window, reaching through and separating the cheap venetian blinds, and dark eyes behind them were staring intently and hatefully at Nunez. Nunez spent a quarter of a second looking back into the eyes in the window, registering the threat before dropping his flashlight and drawing his pistol in less than one second. He brought the Sig-Sauer pistol up to his chest, where his left hand met his right to get the proper grip, then thrust the pistol straight forward at the eyes in the window. When his arms were fully extended, he hit the rocker switch on the light attached to the frame of the Sig, under the muzzle, and lit up the eyes in the window from about five feet away.

The eyes closed, the hand was yanked out of the window through the blinds, and a shadow sprinted away. Red smears were on the blinds where the hands had been. Nunez was pissed at himself for a second; he had missed a threat while he was looking at the blood. He reached for the shoulder mike again, keeping the pistol aimed at the window.

“1243 dispatch, there’s blood all over the place and someone inside the apartment. I think it’s gonna be a stabbing. Go ahead and get me more than one backup unit, and start EMS.” Then he turned to the thuglets at apartment F, hoping they would still be sitting outside. Of course they were, if there was the possibility that there would be any violence they had to have a ringside seat.

“Hey!” Nunez shouted. “Do these apartments have back doors?”

Their spokesman answered, “Huh?”


“Um, naw, not in mine.”

“Alright, cool.” Nunez keyed his mike again. “1243 dispatch, one of the callers here says there are no back doors or windows to these apartments, but I want 1113 or whoever gets here first to check the back and make sure.”

“1243 clear.”

“1331, I’m en route, 32 is with me. Jerry, we’re about eight minutes away.” Two more officers, coming south from Greenspoint, known to locals as “Gunspoint”, the high crime area at the far north edge of the city.

“1113 1243, I’m about three minutes out.” Nunez could hear the motor racing in the background as Calhoun tore through the streets to the west.

“That’s clear, don’t kill yourself getting here.” Nunez pulled his weapon in toward his chest and ran sideways past the window, going toward the left side of the apartment. Because apartment A was at the far left end of the apartment block, the left wall faced 1800 Hanley and didn’t adjoin another apartment. If there was a window on that wall, the suspect could escape from it. Nunez reached the left corner and looked around it. There was an upstairs window, closed and covered by a screen. Nunez posted up at the corner, eyes darting from the front door and window to the side window, preparing to jump one way or the other and use the corner as cover if someone started shooting at him.

After two minutes of watching the door and window and seeing nothing, Nunez heard an engine and tires screaming. Suddenly officer Eddie Calhoun’s patrol car screeched from the service road onto Hanley, blew the stop sign, passed Nunez’s position on the corner of the apartment and slid to a stop as it turned into the alley behind the apartment complex. The car’s spotlight flicked on for two seconds, then Calhoun spun his tires as he backed out of the alley, turning the rear end of his car toward the complex’s parking lot. He started backwards down the street but Nunez stopped him with a radio call.

“1113, stop right there, stop right there! Light up the second floor window that faces Hanley.”

Calhoun’s car jerked to a stop, the spotlight came on and rotated up toward the window. “Clear. Dispatch, show me arrived,” Calhoun said. “Jerry, there’s no back door or window.”

“Okay, clear,” Nunez said into his radio. “1113, leave that light on. I need a sergeant on the air, we’re going to have to make entry now, this one can’t wait.”

Dispatch was on it. “Sergeant on the air for 1243 for forced entry. 204, you there?”

“204, go.”

“1243 204, we’re about to make forced entry to an apartment,” Nunez said. “Looks like a stabbing, I saw a suspect inside, there’s a lot of blood outside and we have a witness who saw the suspect drag the female complainant inside the apartment after assaulting her. I have one backup unit with me and two more on the way.”

“Clear. Make entry and find the complainant if you can but don’t clear the entire apartment without additional backup unless there’s no other way. I’m en route to you. Dispatch, get us a K9 out there.”

“1243 clear.” Nunez released the transmit button on the shoulder mike. “Eddie, come to me.”

Calhoun crab-walked sideways from the driver’s side of his car where he had taken a covered position, and Nunez saw that he had his pistol in his hands in a proper grip, covering the second floor window as he moved. He kept his eyes on the window, not on Nunez, and as he reached the corner he put his right hand out to make contact with Nunez, to confirm that he was in the right spot, without ever taking his eyes from the window. Nunez had to admit to himself that asshole or not, Eddie Calhoun was the perfect guy for a situation like this.

Nunez grabbed Calhoun’s arm and said to him, “Alright, we do this quick. You kick the door, I’ll cover the door and the window while you do it. I’m going in first, to the left, you go right. First priority is to find the stabbed girl, second is the suspect. If we find the girl we bring her out and wait for the Gunspoint guys and K9 before we go back in for the suspect. Got it?”

“I’m all over it,” Calhoun said, not looking at him. “Tell me when you’re set.”

Nunez reacted silently to the word set, because it wasn’t a cop word. It was an infantryman’s term, a grunt word, and it took him back to some other places, where he had to clear other houses, and what happened inside some of those houses wasn’t always good. He let go of Calhoun’s arm, walked sideways to the right side of the door but about ten feet back, where he could watch both the door and the window and hopefully have enough clearance to fire into either one without hitting Calhoun if the need arose.

“1243 dispatch, we’re about to make entry, clear the radio.” He let go of the mike and said “Set” to Calhoun.

“Moving.” Calhoun moved swiftly to the door, pulled his pistol close into his chest and delivered a tremendous kick that shattered about two feet of the door frame. Nunez sprang forward as the door bounced off inside wall, and had the presence of mind to be impressed by the fact that Calhoun instinctively pulled his pistol into muzzle down position as Nunez passed in front of him. Nunez went left, scanning the room as he moved to a position about two thirds of the way down the wall. When his area was clear he looked at the right and saw Calhoun on the right side of the room, scanning high and low for threats. The living room was easy to clear, with an open main area and the bulk of the furniture along the walls. The threat areas were the entrance to the kitchen, on the right side of the room near Calhoun.

Nunez noted the huge pool of blood on the floor near the center of the room, the bloody footprints, smears and drag marks leading to the kitchen, and the bloody footprints leading to the front window and stairwell. There was no question of what to check first. The entire downstairs would have to be cleared, before anyone went to the second floor.

“Eddie, check this out. We’re going to clear down here, starting with the kitchen. I want you to pie the kitchen off, I’ll be at your back watching everything behind us. Cool?”

“Got it. Moving.” Calhoun stepped forward to the left side of the kitchen doorway, which was open with no door, and looked as far as he could inside while Nunez backed up until their backs touched each other. Calhoun started to pie the room off, peering into the room from one spot and then moving slightly forward so he could see just a little more of the room, then repeating that movement, cutting a little more of the pie each time, leaning as far to his right as he could and leading the movement with his pistol, his right eye directly behind it. If a suspect was inside the kitchen, the first thing he would see was a muzzle pointed at him.

As Calhoun moved, Nunez watched the threat areas, the doorways, and took in details of the apartment. Sparsely furnished, a set of small glass teacups on a coffee table in front of a sofa, several pairs of cheap plastic sandals on a small carpet just to the side of the door, a book with what looked like Arabic writing on the cover laying on the sofa. Nunez swept the room, stopped and assessed, swept the room the other way, caught sight of something red and green and obviously unimportant and dismissed it. He swept back the other way, suddenly realized what the red and green object was and jerked his head back to it, and took a long look at the small Afghanistan flag on a stand on one of the end tables next to the sofa.

“Jerry, I have feet.”

“Laying down, standing up, what?” Nunez asked.

“Laying down,” Calhoun said. “Little feet, all bloody. I’m continuing.” He took another three steps in the arc and said “It’s her. She’s dead. No question. I don’t see anything else.”

“How do you know she’s dead?” Nunez asked.

“Jerry, she’s dead. Trust me.”

Nunez said, “We’re going to trade places so I can take a look. On three. One, two, three.” And they quickly traded places, taking their eyes off their threat areas for only a second. Nunez took a look into the kitchen and knew immediately that Calhoun had been right.

“Damn. Yeah, you’re right,” Nunez said. “She’s dead.”

“I told you so,” Calhoun said.

From the doorway, Nunez could see the entire length of her body, the slashes on her thighs and arms, intestines protruding from at least three places on her lower abdomen, the way her neck and head were tilted at the wrong angle from her shoulders. Her throat had been cut so deeply that she had almost been decapitated. Nunez thought that it looked like the suspect had tried to saw her head off and had given up. The pool of blood around her body went past her head and almost to her feet, and reached the walls on both sides of her torso. She was small and thin, and Nunez thought she couldn’t have been more than 14 or so, but with all the damage and blood it was impossible to tell.

“Fuck,” Nunez said. “Okay, we’re backing out, we’ll let the dog do the rest of the work. Go ahead and start moving to the door.”

The radio beeped as they started their move. “1331 and 32 arriving. Jerry, where do you want us?”

“1243 1331, I need you to cover the window on the side of the apartment that faces Hanley,” Nunez replied. “Tell me if it’s open or if you see any blood around it. 32, come to the door, we found the girl and we’re backing out.”

Dispatch jumped on the radio. “Dispatch 1243, I need patient information on the girl.”

“1243 dispatch, she’s DOA.” Dead On Arrival. Street cops in Houston usually say DRT, for Dead Right There, usually pronounced dead raht thar with a Texas twang. But in any case where there is an actual innocent victim, Houston cops will use DOA instead, feeling as if that shows a little more respect for the dead. “I can confirm, we just need an ambulance to pronounce her. We just backed out, the suspect should still be inside. What’s the deal with K9?”

“Dispatch 1243, he’s coming from southwest area, gonna be a few.”

“1243 clear.” Nunez and Calhoun backed out of the door and took positions on either side of the doorway with their weapons pointing inward as Officer John Mata, unit 1332, approached them. Mata was a young, handsome and healthy officer, less than two years out of the academy, one of the college guys with no military experience that the department was trying so hard to recruit. The administration had made a conscious decision to bring more educated people into the department, and those officers who had a bachelor’s degree or higher, regardless of their job performance, made more money than those who didn’t. Nunez was fond of expressing his bitterness about the department’s apparent lack of respect for veterans by saying things like I foolishly wasted my time serving my country in the military, including in combat, when I should have been in college binge drinking, smoking pot, date-raping sorority girls, buying my research papers off the internet and badmouthing America, because that’s what makes you a good cop. But then there were officers like John Mata, with his college degree and absolute cluelessness about all things military, coupled with an earnest desire to do a good job and plain good sense on the street, and Nunez had to admit to himself that a lot of the college guys were pretty good cops.

“That window looks clear, Jerry,” Mata said. “It’s closed and there’s nothing around it.”

“Okay, good,” Nunez said. “If he had tried to come out of there that window would look like a mass murder. That fucking scene is bloody as shit. He’s still in there, probably upstairs.”

“How bad is it?” Mata asked.

Calhoun answered, “Dude, it’s a fucking slaughterhouse in there. Fucking girl got butchered, guts out and head cut off. Fucking suspect was trying to eat her or something. Fuck man, I never seen any shit like that before.”

Mata looked shocked. “He cut her fucking head off? Seriously?”

Nunez interjected, “No he didn’t cut her head off. Eddie, it’s bad enough, don’t exaggerate.” He thought for a minute and then added, “But he damn near cut her head off.”

“Jesus. Fuck that shit man, I’m getting my shotgun.” Mata turned and headed back to his car, still parked on Hanley. Nunez heard him telling Officer James Wesley, unit 1331, “Dude, he cut her fucking head off.”

“912 to the primary unit on Hanley, orient me.” 912 was a K9 officer named Jones, getting close to the scene and looking for more information.

“1243 912, we have a murder, complainant is still inside the apartment and I’m pretty sure the suspect is also. I don’t have any suspect info, all I saw was a hand and part of the face. The murder was a stabbing, unknown if there are any guns inside. We backed out and we’re covering the bottom floor of the apartment from the doorway.”

“912 clear, I’m about 5 minutes out.”

30 Responses to “Another excerpt from a future novel (Safe From the War)”

  1. 1 WmTell

    Dang son. Good read – please do publish this one. I want to read the whole story.

  2. 3 Marc B.

    Yep, well I’d buy this one without having to read further. Please make sure you let us know the title so we don’t miss it. Very vivid & evocative.

  3. 5 Joshua Morris

    I’m real glad I found your blog, Chris. I really enjoy the writing you produce.

  4. 7 FrankC

    What the others have said. An excellent story intro. When does the book come out?

  5. 9 Aesop

    I repeat: You a bad, bad man. That one hooked me enough to want the rest of the book when it’s available. Which was obviously the point.

  6. 11 Scott Timmons

    Once again you hit home with your writing. I try to restrict my comments to the cop stories since that is what I know. But I read all your stuff eagerly. I can relate to Jerry’s thoughts on disturbances since so many seem to be started for such inconsequential reasons (what Tv channel to watch or who’s best among celebrities,etc) . However, you are right to be concerned about it’s reception in civilian eyes. I can’t really guide you there other than suggesting that you make sure to clarify for readers the trials and struggles Jerry is dealing with.
    I’ll buy the book when you release it. How is the fund raising effort coming? Getting close to covering publishing costs for one (or hopefully two) books?
    Btw, Jerry’s thoughts on the emphasis placed on education eerily mirror mine. While education is rarely a bad thing it doesn’t make up for a lack of common sense or for experience. Everyone reading this probably knows at least one “educated idiot.”
    Keep fighting the good fight and take care.

    • Scott,

      Later in the book Jerry’s burnout feelings from being in the wars become pretty apparent. I struggled with how real to be with this book, and ultimately decided that if it was just a book full of smiley faces it wouldn’t be worth reading. The story is a balance, trying to explain what police work and war can do to people, without making them seem like total douchebags. I think I hit it, but who knows, maybe everyone will hate Jerry by the end of the book.

      The book has been funded, but the money doesn’t actually get delivered until the end of the drive next month. Not sure how long until the book is actually in people’s hands. I’m pretty dang eager to see someone reading it on paper!

      Thanks Scott, I always look forward to hearing your opinion. I want everyone to like my writing, but I need cops and combat vets to read it and say, “yeah, this is for real.”

      • 13 Les

        I remember in one of Wambaugh’s books, (The Blue Knight?) that all Bumper noticed on a beautiful morning was dog mess in the gutter. I commented on it to my then FTO (an ex-Pasadena, Texas officer). He said that was how a lot of officers got; to where they only saw the crap after a while.

        • Blammo. That’s one of the things I’m on guard for, I don’t want to be one of those guys. I’ve actually gotten to like people more since I became a cop, and I don’t want to become one of those cynical jerks who hates everyone. I’ve known a few, and they’re not pleasant to be around.

  7. 15 Mike_C

    This is excellent. I’m not sure what you’re foreshadowing with “might not help with the current debate about rights and freedom America is having“” but based on this first chapter, definitely a book I would purchase.

    • Mike,

      Later in the book there is some pretty horrific gun violence. And it’s totally believable, which may not help anything. I’m still deciding what to do, lots of stuff to consider.

  8. Damn Chris, this bit is intense! Heart was pounding from the time Nunez spoke to the “thugs” next door!! Awesome job, can’t wait to read the rest!

  9. 19 Gehe

    What all the others are saying AND you picked a real “good” neighborhood to write about. Haven’t driven through THAT area for 10-15 yrs, but do not have happy memories of it. My heart is just now starting to return to normal pace. Keep it up, Chris!

  10. 21 Gravitas

    Great read. Got my heart racing. Way to go. I’ve got no LEO experience, just .mil, but it was full of details that painted the picture and made it real, but didn’t bog down the story. None of that “he drew his 9mm Glock 17(tm) with Trijicon ™ night sights from his Serpa ™ P.O.S. ™ holster…” crap. Keep up the good work. BZ!

  11. 23 Martin

    Damn, that one sets the hook early and deep. I’m glad you’re sharing these.

  12. Wow. Just… wow.


  13. 27 Mikey

    You did it to me again. I saw this blog entry last Monday and I held off reading it. Didn’t have time and I thought, “…not another one.”

    Then today, Sunday, I figured I swing back by and the next thing I knew I’m hitting the dotted line and the comment link going, “No! Don’t end here!” Sheesh. Like a Joseph Wambaugh novel on steroids.

  14. 28 Scott Timmons

    For another view of the experience versus education question, check out Jerry Pournelle’s blog (the portion called Chaos Manor). He is addressing the status of education in America.

  15. Excellent read! It actually reminds me of a situation a friend of mine was in years ago. Well done,can’t wait for the rest!!

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