NOTHING. ZERO. NAUGHT. DIDDLY. Four words that all describe what Officer Tonks had been able to accomplish outside the hospital.

Just a great big goose egg.

She’d not heard from the Piñata in over twenty minutes, and for a time there, would have sworn she had heard gunshots from somewhere within the hospital. But they had been faint, almost non existent. In fact, she couldn’t even been sure that they were gunshots at all.

In the end, she did the only thing she could think of. She took the radio mike from her uniform and gave it a squeeze.

“Dispatch, this is Four Adam Two, any update on that backup?”

She had to wait a moment for a response.

“Four Adam Two, please be advised that backup is on the way. I repeat, backup is on the way.”

That was some good news at least.

“Hey, Piñata. You still out there?” she said into the walkie talkie. “I don’t know where you’re at, or what you’re doing, but help’s coming.”

She didn’t get a response.

Three point two minutes later, no less that seven squad cars screamed out of the night, their lights bouncing off the surrounding buildings as they all screeched to their own individual halts in front of the hospital. Following along closely behind was a large and blocky van, black with the letters S.W.A.T. in white on the side.

SWAT, finally. She loved the SWAT team. In her heart of hearts, Officer Tonks dreamed of being a part of the elite unit of police officers. The back doors of the van swung open, and the reason for her admiration stood just inside the opening.

In full body armor and carrying an assault rifle across her chest, Sergeant Britta Gonzalez jumped from out the back of the van, ten similarly dressed troopers right behind her. Had this been a movie or television show, Britta’s entrance would have been done in slow motion with some sort of hard rock song to accompany it, something that went well with explosions.

“Who was first on the scene?” Sergeant Gonzalez called out.

“Right here,” Officer Tonks responded, throwing a hand quickly into the air.

“And you are?” Sergeant Gonzalez asked. She towered above Officer Tonks and looked down on her with a grimace.

“Officer Leslie Tonks, Sergeant,” she said.

Sergeant Gonzalez looked her up and down, her mouth a flat line, until suddenly, a smile slit the woman’s face and she offered her hand to Officer Tonks.

“I am so pleased to meet you, Officer Leslie Tonks,” she said, shaking her hand, the smile both genuine and bright. “I’m Sergeant Britta Gonzalez and these grim men and women behind me are my team.”

The grim men and women behind her looked, well, grim.

“What’s the situation?” Sergeant Gonzalez asked.

“We have an unknown number of armed terrorists in the hospital dressed in some sort of crustacean motif,” replied Officer Tonks.

“Crustacean, eh?” said Sergeant Gonzalez. “Sounds like the Crustacean Conglomerate. What are their demands?”

“I haven’t heard a peep from them.”

“Then how do you know they are in there?”

“Well,” Officer Tonks said. “They shot at me.” She gestured to her squad car and the bullet holes that marked up the driver’s side.

“I see,” said the sergeant. “And you’re okay?”

“I’m fine. Thank you, Sergeant.”

“Well then,” said the sergeant, gazing at the hospital with far away eyes. “I guess we need to try and open up the lines of communication. See what they want. Maybe we can end this peacefully.”

“There’s something you should probably know,” said Officer Tonks.

“Oh,” said the sergeant, wearing her smile like a badge of honor. “What’s that.”

“I have someone on the inside,” said Officer Tonks. “Sort of.”

“Someone on the inside?” said the sergeant with more than a little exuberance. “Well then, kudos to you, Officer Leslie Tonks. Bravo. Who is this mysterious person you have on the inside?”

“Well,” Officer Tonks didn’t want to say. It was, after all, more than a little embarrassing to admit that she’d somewhat partnered up with a guy in a piñata suit. “It’s a bit complicated.”

“Oh?” Sergeant Gonzalez cocked an eyebrow, something Tonks had always wished she could do. “I like complicated. Fire away.”

“Okay, so this guy came out of the hospital,” Tonks began.

“A patient?”

“No,” said Tonks. “Well, maybe. I mean, he didn’t come out the front door. He scaled the side of the building.”

“Intriguing,” said Sergeant Gonzalez. “Tell me more.”

“He wore a…” Here it was. She’d have to say it now. “He wore a piñata suit.”

When the sergeant didn’t react, Officer Tonks continued. She told about the walkie talkies, how the Piñata had climbed back up the side of the building, and of the last thing he’d said over the walkie before he’d gone silent.

“Vampire lobster?” Sergeant Gonzalez said, the arch of her brow rising even further.

Officer Tonks then described the encounter she had with the pale lobster woman earlier in the evening. Sergeant Gonzalez listened with rapt attention as her team remained standing behind her, still looking grim.

Her story completed, Officer Tonks waited as the sergeant took it all in.

“A hospital under siege,” the sergeant said. “The Crustacean Conglomerate, a man dressed as a piñata, and a vampire lobster woman. This is our kind of case, eh team?”

Her team grunted their affirmative.

“So what’s the plan?” Officer Tonks asked.

“We have a negotiator arriving. At this point we set up a perimeter and try to establish contact.”

“We aren’t going in?” Tonks asked.

“Good gracious no,” said Sergeant Gonzalez. “We can’t just go charging it until we have all the facts.”

“But what about the patients?” Tonks asked. “Certainly they are in danger.”

“The patients aren’t what’s important.” This had come from a man in a suit who had seemed to materialize out of the night. He was tall and slim, with short cropped dark hair. And he worse sunglasses, despite the dark.

“And who are you?” Sergeant Gonzalez asked.

“Brody, Mac Brody. FBI.” He showed them both a badge. “And I’m taking charge of this circus.”

“Circus?” Officer Tonks said. “No one is doing anything. We were about to set up a perimeter. What circus?”

“You make sure and mind how you speak to a government agent,” Brody said.

“What did you mean that the patients weren’t important?”

“We have a high valued individual in there,” Brody said. “Highly valued. Super high, if you get my drift. He is what this whole circus is all about.”

“Again,” Tonks said. “What circus are you talking about?”

“Young lady,” Brody said.

“Young lady?” Tonks said. “You look younger than me.”

Brody stepped to her and pulled his sunglasses down his nose so that he could down at her, eye to eye.

“I can have you escorted from this circus you call a crime scene without even breaking a sweat,” Brody said. “Talk back to me one more time and you’ll see how serious I am.”

“What is with you and the circus?” Sergeant Gonzalez said.


Everyone went quiet. All eyes were on the special agent who had torn his sunglasses from his face, and now stood, bent slightly, with his forehead in the palm of his hand.

“I’m sorry,” he said at last. “I’m really very sorry.” He stood straight and placed his sunglasses back on his face. “I sometimes let my anger get the better of me. I try not to, but it’s not easy, especially when walking into a circus like this one.”

No one said a word.

“Now,” Brody said clapping his hands together and smiling. “As I said, I am in charge. So, what I’d like to do here is have your team there,” he gestured to the sergeant’s team of grim warriors. “Go on into the building and shoot every single person they see who is neither a doctor nor a patient. Can we do that?”

Gonzalez and Tonks shared a look, and in that look Tonks could see the concern in the sergeant’s eyes that mirrored her own.

Are you reading The Mighty Piñata each week?

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