Toby could hear the truck getting
closer and closer, its tires sliding on the wet road, as it took a tight
corner. His leg was throbbing from the injury he had suffered in the warehouse.
He was running as fast as he could to get away from them, his heart pounding. He
turned his head to watch the truck slither to a stop. Footsteps. They were following him into the depths of the concrete
Toby felt like the walls of the skyscrapers were closing in on him. He had to
think about his next move. Think? No, it was all instinct. During his four years
with the Baltimore Police Department he had been in situations like this plenty
of times. This time it was different though. He found himself on the other
side. He was the one being chased, not the one in pursuit.
Toby was getting tired and the pain
in his leg was getting worse. He could feel the cold water on his feet, making
it hard to keep his footing as he was turning corners trying to get away in the
dark alleys that lay between the old brick buildings and the newer high-rises. Ignoring
the pain in his leg he made a sharp cut to the right. Bad call. The wet asphalt didn’t provide enough traction to make
the turn. He felt his legs come out from underneath. Keep your balance! Too late! His momentum sent him flying in an
incontrollable spin. The wall of a red brick building brought his slide to a
sudden painful stop. Get up! Keep going!
Toby could hear them getting closer. He wouldn’t give up. Ignoring the sharp
pain in his back and leg, he sprinted on, looking for a place to hide. He
turned left into a narrow alleyway, and immediately realized that he had made a
mistake. A fence was blocking his way out and they were to close behind him to
turn around and go back. The only way out was to go over the barrier. Taking
long strides to gain enough speed to make the leap, Toby approached the fence. One more step and jump! No! He got high enough to touch the metal
rod at the top, but he couldn’t get a hold of it. Toby fell over backwards,
hitting the ground hard. Get up! He
wouldn’t give up. Staring at the fence he heard the footsteps closing in.
Yelling. He couldn’t make out the words. It didn’t matter. All he could think
of was trying to clear the fence. Looking up at the barrier that was blocking
his way to freedom, Toby suddenly felt a rope around his neck. He could feel it
tighten more and more, making it hard to breathe. He was struggling to break
free, but that only made it worse. The rope wrapped tighter around his neck.
Everything went black.
They had been partners ever since
Toby first started working for the BPD. The department had assigned him to work
with Officer Gary Navarro on his first day on the force and they had become a great
team quickly. The tall, sturdy Navarro had been 33 when he was partnered up
with Toby. He had a reputation of acting before thinking, but that had changed
when he started working with Toby. Navarro’s 10 years of experience on the
force had helped Toby catch on to what he was asked to do quickly. And Toby had
been a good match for Navarro too. After the first weeks of working with Toby,
he had started to calm down, making better decisions, trying to protect his new
partner and teach him right. They had quickly built trust in one another and
communication had been their strongest skill. Like the day they had made the
big drug bust on I-83. Toby had always been good at finding the places where
drug couriers hid their merchandise and it had been no different that day on
the freeway. They had stopped the white Escalade for speeding, but as they had walked
up to the SUV’s drivers’ side window, Officer Navarro had known that there was
more to it immediately. Just by looking at his partner. They didn’t need any
words. Toby’s body language had been enough to let Navarro know there were
drugs involved. They had searched the car and found 80 pounds of marijuana. One
of the biggest busts in years.
Over the years they had become the most
successful team on the corps. They always knew what the other was going to do,
just by looking at each other. They had been successful in solving almost all
the cases they had been assigned to. This one had been different. They had been
picked to investigate undercover in what was believed to be
Baltimore’s largest dog-fighting ring. They
had been getting closer and closer to the head of the ring, but they hadn’t
been quite ready to make the bust yet.
They pulled up to the abandoned
warehouse in Little Italy in their undercover car, the gravel crunching under
the tires. The building lay next to the
River in the
Baltimore harbor. Navarro and Toby went
inside just in time to witness the first fight of the night. Under the cheering
and yelling of a crowd of about a dozen dog fighters, a pit bull tore into an
English bulldog and won the fight after only two minutes. Navarro had agreed to
bring his dog to show Big Joe a potential competitor.
“Let’s see what he got!” Big Joe
pointed at Navarro’s 95-pound Rottweiler.
“Tonight?” Navarro hadn’t expected
this. He had hoped to get closer to Marsh without having to put his dog in
harm’s way. Hector Marsh’s name had come up several times during fights.
Whether it was lack of intelligence or carelessness didn’t matter to Navarro. They
had a name and they wanted to get to Marsh. They wouldn’t be satisfied with
just a few arrests. They’d take the whole ring down, once they had the
“Come on man, what’s the problem?”
Big Joe was getting impatient. He had the body of a defensive end, but the face
of a twelve-year old. Big Joe was moving in on Navarro, threatening him to put
his dog in a fight. “Enough of this standing-around-and-watching bullshit! You
gotta show us something!”
Navarro’s thoughts started racing. I need to get to Marsh. But I can’t do this
to him. He’s gonna put up a fight, but he’s gonna get hurt. Killed maybe. I
can’t do this to him. He glanced at Toby, who gave him an assertive look
back. They had to go through with this.
“Come on man! What’s your problem?
You a cop or somethin’?” Big Joe was getting mad. He pulled his gun and pointed
it at Navarro’s face. “You here for the fighting, right? So let’s see what he
got or I’ll show you what I got.”
“Alright, alright! Fuck it! Get him
in there!” Navarro tried to hide the uncertainty in his voice. He had to come
up with a way to get him out of the fight before the other dog could lay into
him. But he had to keep his cover. He needed to get to Marsh.
Navarro watched Big Joe lead his
four-legged friend to the pit. A 90-pound Indian Mastiff was waiting for him,
baring its teeth. Hands were reaching out, holding up twenties. It seemed like most
people were putting their money on the Mastiff, whose owner had to hold the
agitated dog back with all his strength.
“That’s it! No more bets! Back off!”
Big Joe was shouting his commands at the top of his lungs. After everybody had
calmed down, a big smile formed on his face. “This is gonna be good.”
It all happened within seconds, but
it felt like a lifetime to Navarro. The Mastiff lunged forward and went
straight for his opponent’s throat. The Rottweiler dodged the blow, but the attacker
latched on to his leg. Navarro could hear his dog squeal in pain and lost his
cool. He went back to his old self, acting before thinking. He pulled his gun.
“Police! Everybody get down!” Bad call. He was surrounded by an angry
pack of dog fighters and Toby was in no position to help him. He felt a hard
blow to the back of his head. As he went down, Navarro saw that Toby had managed
to slip out of the warehouse. He’s gonna
Toby woke up in a dark room. It was
too dark to see, but he could hear the water outside. He was still close to the
Patapsco. Maybe back in the warehouse. No,
the warehouse had a concrete floor. This was dirt. He inched forward until he
reached a wall. Wood panels. Hadn’t they walked past a shed by the warehouse parking
lot earlier? What was that smell? This must be where they keep the dogs. He
could hear muffled screaming. Was there another room next to him? Was that
Navarro? He heard a voice that was different from his partner’s yelling. Now
laughing. He’d heard the voice before.
“Didn’t wanna see your dog gettin’ hurt,
huh? Well, let’s see how you deal
with pain.” Again, Big Joe flashed the smile that Navarro had seen in the
warehouse. Big Joe took a step back, then – using all of his 260 pounds of
bodyweight – kicked Navarro in the side. The impact knocked the wind out of the
officer and a sharp pain shot through his body. “Don’t mess with us man!” Navarro saw Big
Joe’s foot come down on him again. This time it was gonna hit his head. Navarro
had no way to defend himself. His hands were bound on his back and his feet
were tied together. He turned his face to the ground to avoid a blow to his
face, and the boot struck him hard in the side of the head. He lost
Toby had found the door. He tried to
push it open, but it didn’t move an inch. He took a step back, and then threw
his body at the door. Nothing. He needed to get out of here. He was sure he had
heard his partner screaming in the next room. But it had gone silent a while
ago. He needed to get to him, help him. He walked along the wall to find the
softest spot in the dirt. Then he started digging.
Navarro came to. His head felt like
it was going to explode. Focus! He
needed to find a way out of here. He was sure Big Joe was off to get his boss,
and Marsh wouldn’t let him off with a beating. Navarro had seen too much, he had gotten too close. Marsh would have to
kill him. The officer heard a scratching behind the wall. More like digging. He
didn’t want to attract Big Joe’s attention.
“Hello? Who is that? Help me!”
Toby was digging like he was
possessed. He couldn’t even feel the pain from his injuries anymore. Inch by
inch he removed the earth, getting closer to Navarro. After what felt like
hours, he had gotten a big enough hole to fit his head through.
Navarro had a big smile on his face,
but realized quickly that they needed to be quiet. Toby kept digging until he
could fit his whole body through the hole. He quickly ran up to his partner and
a few minutes later they had managed to untie Navarro’s hands. Navarro rubbed
his wrists, then bent down to untie his feet.
“Thanks partner! Now, let’s get
outta here! Quiet!” They heard footsteps on the gravel outside. “That’s them!”
Navarro whispered. He positioned himself on the left side of the door,
motioning to Toby to take the other side. When Marsh opened the door, Navarro
lunged forward and knocked him out with a single punch to the temple. Toby went
after Big Joe. He wasn’t going to knock the big guy over, and he went straight
for Big Joe’s legs. Startled by the unexpected attack, Big Joe stumbled
backwards, giving Navarro enough time to reach for Marsh’s gun. He pulled the
gun out of the holster and pointed it at Big Joe.
“Baltimore Police Department! You’re
Navarro tied up Marsh and he and
Toby escorted Big Joe to the warehouse. From there, Navarro made the phone call
to the department.
The next morning, Navarro sat at the
kitchen table sipping his coffee. His dog lay at his feet panting and wagging
its tail. Navarro reached for the newspaper and read the title story:
dog fighting ring
Baltimore – Two men were arrested by the
Baltimore Police Department’s K9 unit Wednesday, and authorities are seeking
ten others in
largest dog fighting bust to date. Officer Gary Navarro made the initial
arrests in an abandoned warehouse in the
harbor with the help of his four-legged partner. Officer Toby, a Rottweiler who
is cross-trained to detect narcotics as well as
individuals, helped Navarro escape from captivity and make the arrests of the
leader of the dog fighting ring, Hector Marsh, and his right hand man Joe
Navarro ran his fingers across Toby’s head and gave
him a pat on the side. “Good job partner!”
All rights belong to its author. It was published on e-Stories.org by demand of Andreas Kreutzer.
Published on e-Stories.org on 11/13/2009.