The Burning Police Car by Anne Hansell
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Every day, police stop motorists and explain their infraction before writing out a ticket. Sound familiar? Yes. But in my case, it didn’t happen that way.
You see, I’m deaf, and I have problems communicating with certain police officers who stop me now and then.
One day, I drove up a ramp and glanced at the traffic light. It was off so I went through it without stopping.
A police car caught up with me and flashed its sirens, so I pulled over at the nearest shoulder.
A woman officer got out of the car, then came up to my driver’s window. She looked young, probably in her late twenties. She had a lean, athletic body and long blonde hair that peaked out from under her helmet. She wore dark sunglasses and spoke to me, but her lips moved too fast for me to lip-read. I pointed my fingers at my ears and shook my head.
She understood. I gestured to her I gotta get my purse. She nodded. I fished out my license, car registration, and insurance.
She examined them and issued me a ticket without saying a word. I raised my hand. She waited again. I got my smartphone out and typed, “What have I done to get this ticket?” She replied, “You ran through the ramp light.”
I protested, typing, “But the light wasn’t on!”
Reading my reply, the officer’s face looked hard. Unmoved. Cold. She typed back, “Well, you have go to traffic school for this.” I could see her mouth moving - she seemed to be snorting as if she wasn’t impressed with me. Now, I understood. I’ve met some hearing people who disliked me due to my deafness, but I put them out of my mind and got on with my everyday life.
She got in her car and drove away.
I was furious, shocked at her lack of sensitivity. Too bad I didn’t get to tell her about my family curse.
You see, I’m a third-generation Japanese American, and my mother’s family came from a long line of samurais. Back in Japan, my uncle told me about one certain ancestor who had worked as a samurai during the Shogun days. He wasn’t happy with all the blood and violence, so he studied the black arts. One night, an enemy clan invaded his family castle and slayed his brother, sister-in-law, and their children. His loyal servants managed to smuggle his former wife and children out of the place. That was how our branch of the clan survived.
My uncle cast a spell upon his enemy. He warned, “If anyone dares to hurt or insult my family, this enchantment shall kill or injure him or her, but if anyone saves or blesses those of my flesh and blood, he or she shall receive generous blessings.”
The curse worked! Since that time, anyone who hurt or insulted my relatives ended up badly injured or dead. Those who helped or treated us well often received great fortunes or long lives.
This ancient spell followed me now. During my teen years, a certain girl bullied me terribly. Shortly after that, she became paralyzed from her waist down in a terrible car accident. Her parents took her out of my school for good.
Years later, I was a university undergraduate majoring in history. I saw a young girl I knew from biology class at a nightclub. She came from a super-wealthy family and she looked down at me for my middle-class upbringing, calling me a low-class loser. She even did it there at the club. I saw her leave with a young man who gave me the willies. The next day, the police found her dead, raped and stabbed to death with a hunting knife. But a side effect of the spell was that it brought guilty people to justice. The police arrested the creep in no time at all, thanks to several witnesses at the nightclub.
My best childhood friend found out about my ancient family spell when she gave me a gold brooch. The next day, her parents won several million dollars in the lottery. Some of my close friends treated me to lunch or dinner whenever they needed good luck with their university finals.
Although I was angry about having to go to traffic school, I also had concerns about the lady officer who had given me the ticket for no good reason. I knew my old family curse would harm her very badly, sooner or later.
I had a brother-in-law named Simon who was a homicide inspector at a local police station; we met at my sister’s wedding and got along so well, he learned American Sign Language. One day, he invited me and my boyfriend, Kerry, to a big party at the station. I was a paraeducator, living paycheck to paycheck and had a side job baking desserts for parties. Simon asked me to bring in a large chocolate bundt cake with vanilla frosting and a couple dozen frosted sugar cookies.
Simon helped us carry the cake container and two large boxes of cookies into the party. Plenty of people, either in uniforms or evening clothes, milled about, chatting and drinking. Kerry had excellent lipreading and speaking skills, so he went along with Simon to converse with others while I went to help prepare meals and desserts in the snack room. All went fine until I went into the party carrying a tray of handmade submarine sandwiches to the buffet table. That’s when I spotted the blonde officer who had given me the ticket. After I left the buffet table, I went straight to Simon and explained what happened with that officer. He raised his eyebrows in concern; he had seen weird things due to our ancestral spell. He said, “Looks like Officer Katie is going to be in big trouble sooner or later. I better go warn her.”
I watched him, but she laughed and looked over at me with disdain. She muttered something to him and went to chat with others. Apparently, she still didn’t take me very seriously, but I was still anxious about her safety, so I went toward her. She noticed me and walked away to talk with a tall officer. I tried again. She walked away again, but I finally, cornered Officer Katie and typed, “I’m concerned for your safety. All I need is your apology for your rudeness so you’ll live.” She read my message, coughed several times, then dropped my phone to the ground. Her smirk showed me she had done it on purpose.
I kneeled to pick it up. It was cracked. I looked up at her; she looked pleased.
I sighed and went back to Simon. He shook his head.
“That wasn’t nice of her,” he said. “But don’t worry, she’ll get what she deserves sooner or later. We both tried our best to warn her, but she didn’t believe us, even called us a couple of weirdos. It’s her choice so we best let her go.” I remembered feeling so frustrated and helpless that evening.
Sure enough, two weeks later, I picked up my newspaper and saw a big headline, “Police Officer Dies in Burning Police Car.”
A blonde female police officer was patrolling a neighborhood about two miles from where I live. She stopped a gray sedan for a traffic violation. The car pulled over. A man got out of the car and faced the officer.
It was fifteen minutes past midnight. The street was empty except for parked cars, a few bright streetlights and dark houses.
Officer Katie was going to cite the guy for something and write a ticket. But she didn’t know that the creep was a serial killer, preying on women, and he had a particular taste for blondes.
I turned on the television for the morning news, which had gained access to a house security camera. Over breakfast, I watched the killer grab the officer’s wrists. She had tried some self-defense tactics, but the killer had a third-degree black belt in karate, so he easily knocked her unconscious. He dragged her to his car, out of sight of the camera. This made my stomach lurch. I almost vomited my breakfast back on my plate.
I believed Officer Katie had just become the latest victim of my ancient family spell.
The camera showed the killer taking the body to her police cruiser and putting her inside before driving it away.
According to the news, the killer had driven for an hour and stopped at a 24-hour gas station where he purchased a gasoline container from a cashier before taking the police cruiser to a nearby park.
There, he pulled the body outside and put her on the ground near the cruiser. He poured the gasoline all over the car and the dead officer both before using his lighter to set them afire. But the park was surrounded by three apartment buildings. I believed our family spell blinded him from seeing them. The bright flame attracted the attention of people watching late-night movies, and several people ran out to the burning cruiser.
The killer tried to run away but tripped over the exposed roots of a huge tree, breaking his arm. Adding to his bad luck, several men walking home from a party several blocks away pounced on him and pinned him to the ground.
The murderer was finished, I thought. I felt bad for the dead officer and her family; I texted Simon, and he typed back, “Yeah. They already informed me last night. We already filed several charges against this creep, including first-degree murder. He’s going to have a trial, and he’ll look at either a life sentence without parole or the death penalty.”
I felt so bad for the officer and her family that I sent a large wreath of white carnations to her memorial service.
If only Officer Katie had apologized to me, none of this would have happened.
Although the late police officer was unpleasant to me, she didn’t deserve to die in such a horrible, painful way. I believe we should treat others with respect, even those with unique characteristics. It’s the right thing to do, the right way to behave.
But even if you disagree. Who knows about their family background? There may be one or two curses somewhere.
Deaf since birth, Anne Hansell is a third-generation Japanese-American and distant relative to Mitsunari Ishida, who lost the Battle of Sekigahara to Tokugawa. During a visit to Japan, her Japanese family encouraged her to learn about her samurai heritage by reading Japanese history books, where she learned that some people believe a samurai’s curse could be very powerful. This prompted her to write “The Burning Police Car.” She is now living with her husband, a New England gentleman, in Southern California.
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Linda Gould hosts the Kaidankai, a weekly blog and podcast of fiction read out loud that explores the entire world of ghosts and the supernatural. The stories are touching, scary, gruesome, funny, and heartwarming. New episodes every Wednesday.