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James M. Jensen

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Run From Ramadi
by James M. Jensen   

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Books by James M. Jensen
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Publisher:  Pu blish America


Copyright:  March 4, 2009 ISBN-13:  9781615466085

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For one down-and-out cop, a six month contract to train new Iraqi police officers, turns into a life and death struggle to save himself and the woman he loves from a cold blooded terrorist out to kill as many Americans as he can by blowing up Baghdad with a bomb

Mike Sullivan has been on his way to the bottom for some time now. One day his best friend and watch commander suggests that he take a temporary job teaching new Iraqi Police officers. Mike accepts the assignment and soon finds that it is helping him get back on his feet, until one night he is kidnapped off the streets of Baghdad by an insane terrorist.. Now Mike with the help of a beautiful Iraqi doctor with whom he has fallen in love, must run for their lives across Iraq in a desperate bid to reach safety all the while being pursued by the terrorists who are out to make sure that Mike never gets the chance to tell what he know as he tries to stop the terrorists from setting off a nuclear bomb in the middle of Baghdad.

Chapter 1

In a small house
Somewhere in Iraq

Mike didn’t know what time it was. With no window in the room, it was hard to tell the time of day precisely but he was almost positive that it was no longer daylight outside. He kept thinking that this was all just a bad dream, and that any minute now he was going to wake up and find himself safe and warm back in Philadelphia in his own bed. The only trouble with bad dreams is that sometimes, as in this case, they turn out to be all too frighteningly real. The room in which he sat felt damp and cold, the floor was dirt, and there was no heat to help keep some of the chill out of the air. The walls of the room were rough stone and the only furniture in the room was the rickety old bench on which he now sat. Keeping his arms folded around himself for warmth he sat alone in the dark thinking how much he wished that he were anywhere but here. He was completely alone with his thoughts and with nothing to do but contemplate his situation, as he sat with his back against the rough wall trying to keep from going insane with boredom. Mike sat daydreaming trying to speed up the passage of time, which had slowed to an absolute crawl.

Realizing that his current situation was dangerous was small consolation. Mike knew in his heart that he would never be safe, not even in this so-called safe house, until he was out of this God forsaken, war torn country, and back where he belonged. Yeah where did he belong? Mike wasn't certain exactly where that was anymore. No place really felt like home to him at that moment. But no matter where he did belong, he was positive that it was definitely not in the middle of this stinking third world shithole where every person he saw might be the one who was trying to kill him. For now, all he could do for comfort was close his eyes and pretend that he was not fighting for his life and trying to get somewhere safe. Mike tried to slow his breathing and calm his ragged nerves as he sat in the dark, thinking about a time almost seven months earlier when this entire horrible adventure had begun.

Back then he had been more or less content working his assignment in the evidence room on the day-watch at Philly PD's 7th district. Mike had worked for the Philadelphia Police Department for 15 years. Although he wasn't so sure he could really call what he had, a career anymore. A career by definition was something that had a future, and Mike’s future back then had looked bleak as he struggled daily just to survive, hoping he’d be allowed to make it to minimum retirement age by working five more years. Five years! God, it had sounded like a lifetime when he realized that he had to have a minimum of 20 years on the job in order to put in for a 50% city pension. If he could hold it together that long, he remembered thinking, without getting himself fired, he planned to leave Philadelphia and move to some small quite out-of-the-way town, down South perhaps. There he figured he might be able to get another cop job. That sounded good, really good. It would be nice, he thought to be a cop in a small town where he could be anonymous and mind his own business. It wouldn't even have to pay that much, he reasoned, because he would have his city pension, and if he could supplement that with another job, even a low paying one, then he would be able to make it just fine. Mike had no real expenses beyond the child support that he was currently required to pay. If he could earn enough to keep a roof over his head and food on the table then that would be enough to keep him happy.

Mike was not sure why he felt that leaving Philly was the answer. It was just that the city held so many bad memories for him, and he desperately wanted to get as far away from those memories as he could. Then maybe he might be able to forget his current boozy existence and start living some kind of a real life again. Mike's life had pretty much fallen apart earlier in the year, when Jamie Sue had decided that being a police officer's wife was not the glamorous existence she had dreamed of living. One Thursday evening seemingly out of the blue, and for reasons that Mike could not fathom at the time, Jamie Sue had calmly informed him that she was taking their kids and moving to Ohio where her parents now lived so she could be closer to them. What followed, was days of frantic packing, followed by the loading of the car. During all that time Jamie Sue had said little to Mike beyond what was necessary to complete the task at hand. Before he realized it, Mike stood watching, as Jamie Sue's car pulled away from their house, turned the corner at the end of their quiet street, and disappeared. Mike remembered standing there looking at the empty street and wondering just what he was supposed to do now.

Since the moment of his families departure, all Mike had managed to do was to stay drunk most of the time, only sobering up enough to go to work. Now that he was alone and without a car, he'd moved into a small one-bedroom apartment that was located within walking distance of work. He had put their modest house up for sale, and once it sold, he had dutifully sent Jamie Sue most of the money. His wife's departure and the sale of the house they had both loved, only served to confirm in Mike's mind what he had managed to convince himself of a long time ago, that he was worthless as a father and husband. That coupled with the fact that he was convinced that he was never going to be a big success in the Police Department, meant he had been right when he'd decided that he was basically just a loser.

When he had first become a Police Officer, Mike had loved the job. Being out in the streets, driving a city car, dealing with people and helping to solve their problems, now that was Mike's idea of great job. When his friend Pat O'Malley had first approached him with the idea of applying for the Police Department, Mike a first resisted. He wasn't Police material, he remembered telling Pat, and if they ever found out some of the stuff he and Pat had done when they were kids, hell they would never hire either of them. Nevertheless, he finally agreed to go, to not only shut Pat up, but also because he realized that continuing to work at his current dead-end-job or even being in an office all day long, would probably bore him to death! Police officers were depended upon to be brave, they were respected, allowed to carry a gun, and help people, Mike liked that. As a cop, people would look up to him. It was important work with an element of danger, and that had really appealed to him somehow. But after a few years on the job, Mike began to believe that he was probably not supervisor material and it soon became apparent to him that his lot in life was to be one of the worker bees. As a result, Mike believed that a patrol officer was all he was qualified to be. He had managed to convince himself that he did not possess the drive, ambition, or education that it took to reach the upper ranks.

Mike had his strengths of course, but they seemed to fall far short of making him stand out among his peers. One skill Mike did possess was what people call a sort of sixth sense. He often knew long before any one else when there would be trouble. Some people called it ESP, second sight, or maybe just a gut feeling. Whatever it was called, Mike seemed to have it, and he'd had the ability for so long that he took it for granted and paid it no attention. Mike was a person that could predict what was going to happen before it took place and he was almost never wrong. It actually became a running joke between them. Mike and Pat would be driving around in their patrol car when without warning, Mike would suddenly say.
“That car up ahead is stolen!”
Sure enough, when they would stop the car on some pretext or another, it would invariably turn out that the car was stolen, and the thieves would be completely shocked that they had been caught so easily. Most of Mike's fellow police officers thought it was creepy the way he predicted the future, but for Mike it was just a normal function, like breathing, and just came naturally to him. It came so naturally to him that Mike would often get into trouble for depending on the skill to much. Using his sixth sense, meant that he often failed to adequately justify his actions or provide sufficient probable cause for the things he did and the subsequent arrests he made. The outcome, more often than not, would lead to the suspects being released. This would always make Mike furious, especially when he was proven to be right. It never seemed to matter to his bosses that he had a skill for predicting events, or that he had the ability to know when a crime was being committed. The Brass wanted him to be able to prove that what he was doing was justifiable. Because, it often meant saving the department from being embarrassed or sued for false arrest. All the bosses seemed to care about, in Mike's opinion, was the public's perception of the job he did and not the results he got. His skills never seemed to help him be a better cop. Though he did his job and made his arrests, everyone else always seemed to have more aptitude for the job than he did. As a result, Mike never received any of the recognition that he felt he deserved. The accolades always went to the more politically correct officers, and after a while, it started to wear him down. Mike was just an ordinary person, living a very ordinary life, doing what he considered the best he could, while he worked at his chosen profession. His guess that he was just like thousands of other ordinary people who went to work every day but never managed to get any thanks for the job they did, was right on the mark as far as he was concerned.

When Mike finally came to the realization that he would have to settle for being just one of the nameless faces in the crowd, it had not mattered very much to him. It even made going to work each day easier somehow. As long as he accepted his lot in life, if he never got ahead, it was ok because Mike just liked doing the job. It was enough for him to be able to go home after work to his small house, and his wife and kids, nothing else really mattered. It had apparently mattered though to Mike's wife Jamie Sue. She had wanted more for her husband than just settling for being a Police officer. As a result, she constantly tried to encourage him to try and make something of himself by testing for promotion. Mike however, knew in his own mind that he was not smart enough and didn't possess the political savvy that it took to be a supervisor. Therefore, whenever the subject would come up between them, he just put Jamie Sue off. He would simply ignore her when she would bitch at him for hours telling him that he could do better. He’d just tune her out and drink his beer, often getting blind drunk before falling into bed and going to sleep. Mike's apparent lack of ambition infuriated Jamie Sue to the point that she sometimes would not speak to him for days on end, and Mike could never understand why. He simply could not fathom why Jamie Sue never seemed to be able to understand and accept that it was because he didn't have what it took to be a supervisor, that he wouldn't take the promotional tests. Mike knew that he was destined to be a beat cop and no amount of bitching would change that.
Now Jamie Sue and the kids were gone, and if he believed what she had told him, they were not coming back. With no family to come home to, all Mike had left was his job, that and the liquor bottle at the end of every shift that seemed to hold all the answers to life's most important questions. When he was not working, Mike simply stayed drunk. His drinking had gotten so bad that his Sergeant had begun to take notice of his condition at the start of each shift. The constant drinking, and the fact that he now did just enough work to get by, and no more had made Mike the laughing stock of the district. The “Irish drunk” they all called him, and Mike was humiliated every time he heard someone say it, even though no one would say it to his face. It was always the under-the-breath snickers and the whispered comments said just loud enough for him to hear in the locker room. It slowly drove him crazy, and brought on the lackadaisical attitude that had caused him to be written up so many times, that he'd had lost count. Mike knew in his heart that everyone was right, and it was only a matter of time before he would be suspended or fired if he didn't clean up his act. Trouble was, it was easier to drink away his problems than to face them so, that's exactly what he did.

His only salvation during that period had been his lifelong friendship with his watch commander and boyhood friend Lieutenant Patrick O'Malley. Ever since they were little kids, it was Pat who was always there to intervene on Mike's behalf. Pat O'Malley was the main reason Mike had managed to hold onto his job as long as he had, when anyone else in a similar position, would have been fired long ago.

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