I don’t know why they run.

Speeding along with a cascade of flashing lights behind them like a pack of lions running behind the lagging wildebeest in the herd.

I know some part of them knows this can’t end well. It’s like running from cancer or trying to outpace Alzheimer’s.

I call it lottery logic.

They know the reality of the odds, but they decide to play the game anyway. They believe they can win, even knowing that the odds of winning are so low that they have a better chance of accidentally fucking a supermodel and her sister in a fast food restroom.

Even if they get lucky – and I mean, really, insanely, mind-fuckingly-absurd lucky – it just means they finally lose the proverbial metal lions that are chasing them and they still have me watching from above and I’m not constrained to roads and alleyways.

From there, it’s only so long until they run out of road or gas or reality finally kicks ’em in the balls so hard that they know that this chase is a race that almost no one gets to win.

Worse still, with every passing minute and every passing mile, the volatility of the situation increases. It just keeps escalating.

Sometimes, they run out of road or gas or they simply realize that trying to outrun a lion was never smart in the first place. Sometimes they have a moment of realization and they do the mental math of why they were initially being chased compared to what they’re looking at if they keep running. 

They finally stop.

Few things are quite as anticlimactic and as annoying as seeing this shit unfold for twenty minutes, sweat rolling down my face, my hands slick, and heart racing only to see some asshole go, “Never mind,” and just sit down to take the medicine they were trying to avoid.

The best part is when they don’t.

They won’t.

Something inside just tells them that there is no final step, no last-mile, no surrender.

In those moments, I get the red light while Jones keeps an eye on the sky and focuses on keeping us airborne and I get to light this reckless dumbass up like a three-month-old Christmas tree with cheap lights and faulty wiring.

They get a hailstorm of bullets with a caliber so big the average man could fuck the entry would. They can take off a limb if they hit the right places. I’ve seen it happen.

Fuck, I’ve made it happen.

Personally, I don’t even need to aim that well.

Just line up a sight, pull the trigger and move with the target.

It’s like God spitting extra-strength sunflower seeds at the speed of creation.

The runner goes from a moment of “what if” where lotteries are something they can win to being dead before they realize they’ve been shot.

This fucker right now, they’re getting close. They’re running out of road even if the road goes on forever because that’s just how it works.

I can feel the slow increase.

I can hear the intermittent static from the people pursuing as they talk about intercepting and where the driver is headed. I see some of the lions swerving and getting derailed. I see the runner putting a gap between himself and those behind and I know they can taste it. The theory of freedom. The illusion of escape.

My finger is resting on the trigger and my teeth are clenched and my peripheral vision is locked on the divide to my left where the little light is located.

The runner pulls into where there’s enough trees to try to ditch his vehicle and set out on foot and I’m just waiting for it.

If I were patched into his radio, I’d be saying, “Do it. Hop out and run. You came this far, don’t let it be for nothing. All that time running, every new mile, every small collision. Every car giving chase that got dented and dinged. Every pursuing driver that got bruised, banged up, or broken because they hit something or rolled. It’s all a big tally and you gotta pay the bill no matter what.”

I’d say, “Cut your losses, asshole. I got the best ending you’re gonna get. People would be so lucky to die so quickly. You won’t even know it happened. Your brain might register something like a, ‘huh…’ and you’ll be face down and dead.”

I’d say, “Gimme a reason. I want this. I NEED this. I fucking LIVE for this.”

I can just barely see the car grind to a halt and my eyes try to stay locked on while I try to pay attention to my left for even the slightest hint of red.

And then I see green.

I see men approaching with guns drawn and I know it’s over.

Part of me wants to play a game of “accidental discharge” but I know I need to do this by the book a few more times before I play that card again because if it’s really an accident that many times I’m either a homicidal liar or I’m just bad at my job. Either way, that’s a lose-lose for me.

I’m muted in the headset so no one hears me saying, “Fuck. Fucking piece of fucking shit mother fucking cocksucking mother fucker.”

The noise from the rotary blades is so loud that I’m sure Jones can’t hear me kick the metal wall behind him.

I’m pissed.

I’m so fucking pissed.

I feel like someone stole my birthday.

Like this dickless piece of shit just sent me pictures of someone fucking my mother at a Bar Mitzvah.

Part of me knows that sometimes someone’ll still do something stupid. They’ll get to this point and intentionally die by firing squad but, at that point, it’s the guys on the ground pulling the trigger. Stealing my fucking birthday. Blowing out the candles on my cake. Fucking my mother.

I hear a voice in the headset saying, “Target acquired,” as if that means “Mission accomplished” or “Victory achieved” and it feels like neither one.

It feels like hours before we’re back on the ground and everyone else is left to clean up the wreckage from where cars were hit, others were flipped. People are in the hospital. No one seriously injured, but a good dozen people have a story of, “You’re not gonna believe what the fuck I saw today.”

But not me.

After everything winds down and I pretend to be happy about our supposed victory, I head to the bar on 37th and I get a cheap beer and a shot at the counter, slam the shot, and head to the little table in the back corner where Jones and Davidson are already sitting.

Jones looks like he always does. He’s just a flyboy. He gets his every time we get the word to go airborne.

Davidson looks away sheepishly. I know he’s pissed off, but he’s also worried about how pissed off I am.

I take a drink so big that I immediately regret only getting the one before I left the counter and when the bottle hits the table it looks like it fills up halfway with foam.

I look to Jones and Davidson back and forth like one of those old cat phones with the swiveling eyes, except I suppose it’s not like that at all because I turn my head each time and I say, “Fuck,” to one and then the other, then one and then the other.

“The fuck happened?” I ask. “What, in the actual fuck was that?”

Jones takes a drink of his beer and shrugs. “Goes that way sometimes, man.”

“Goes that way sometimes, man,” I recite back in a nasally voice. “That’s you.”

Jones just shrugs and I know he doesn’t really give a shit and I’m never gonna convince him that he should so I look to Davidson and I say again, “The fuck happened?”

“Signal dropped, bro.” He says it with a shrug. I know he’s not as invested as I am either. He just likes the game and, in his own way, he always gets to win. “A few miles after that second overpass, it dropped out on me and he went right because he couldn’t hear me. After that, I tried to get him back but he wouldn’t pick up.”

“Well, he was a bit preoccupied,” Jones says in an apparent bid to be the least helpful mother fucker on planet earth.

“Oh?” I say as sardonically as I can say a single syllable. “Was he?” I say in the mock cluelessness I can muster.

“Jesus, bro,” Davidson says

“Yeah,” Jones says. “Done is done, man.” I give him the look and he says, “I’m not saying you’re not right to be pissed off, but it’s over now. Sometimes it just plays like that.”

“Almost had him,” I say. “Almost fuckin’ had him.”

I finish my beer and hold up the empty bottle until a waitress comes over and I tell her to get me another and a shot of whatever’s cheapest. I sit there and silently brood until the drinks arrive.

“We got another lined up, at least?”

Davidson smiles and says, “Oh yeah. Marcus Donovan. They got a raid planned for his place out on Newman Hills. I got it mapped out, just gotta make the call before the hammer drops.”

I ask how long and Davidson says it’ll be in two days.

I’m pissed, but I can wait two days. I can take a day to get loaded and get my head right. Another day to get my nerves in order and then it’ll be dinner time.

“He’s usually got a girl there with him. I get the feeling she won’t wanna be there when sirens start singing and he’s enough of a pussy that he’ll probably try to drag her along regardless,” Davidson says with a smile.

“God damn,” I say. “If that ain’t fuckin’ double points, I don’t know what is.”

I guess I lied earlier.

I know exactly why they run.

And God damn, I love it when they run.