I sipped my Dunkin coffee as my partner, Pat pulled up behind the suspect. From our vantage point, the suspect was an African-American male approximately early thirties. He wore a white dress shirt and neck tie. We could identify a car seat stationed in the back with a child rocking while holding a toy.

“Check out the plate.” I called it in. No outstanding violations. We continued our pursuit.

The driver signaled and turned right on Cochran. Nice neighborhood. Where was he going?

“Should we call in back up?” No, this is ours.

Pat reached to turn on the lights, but I slapped his hand. I wanted to see how this played out.

The suspect pulled into the driveway of a split level house. Lawn appeared to be manicured with lovely shrubs. Fall mums recently planted. A flag pole with what first appeared to be a foreign flag waving. Upon closer inspection, the flag checked out as American. Suspect unbuckled his safety belt and exited the vehicle. Without making any sudden movements, he removed the toddler from the car seat.

“Are they working this together?” Pat muttered. Pat’s hand rested on his sidearm. We’ll see. I sipped my coffee as Pat pulled the car to a stop across the street from the home the suspect appeared to be casing. Why this house? It didn’t add up.

“Someone’s coming.” Pat reached for his door, but I pulled him back. An African-American female opened the front door. Thin and wearing nurse’s scrubs, I could make out her lips saying “how was your day?” She grabbed for the child.

“Should we call in back up?” Pat was sweating. “There’s more than one.”

We wait. This could be good. Maybe SWAT good. Reminded me of the time we caught one in a Jaguar heading towards the suburbs. Got hot real fast. Several suburban forces helped with the pursuit, even though that suspect had pulled over immediately. His license and registration checked out, but something just didn’t feel right. Call it patrolman’s instinct, but by the time the FBI arrived each officer had already emptied his weapon. No dash cams on that one. Good damn, brass.

From our vantage point, the suspect, the woman and the toddler were sitting around a dining room table. Something was smoking in the middle of the table. Drugs? Maybe. A discharged weapon? No, we would have heard it. The suspect picked up the steaming bowl and seemed to pull something from it by possibly using a large utensil. Pat appeared antsy.

“I say we bust down that door. There’s three of them!” No. We wait.

A half hour passed before we noticed some activity. The suspect emerged from the house wearing what appeared to be a hoodless track suit. He made some stretching movements and then took off running down the street away from our car.

I got him. I set my coffee down and went for a run. I made it down the street a couple of blocks before heading back to the patrol car. Before I could catch my breath, I took another look at that flag. Still American. What the hell is going on here.

The next morning, the suspect and the toddler emerged from the front door. I tapped Pat’s leg with my shotgun. Pat had slept through the night, but not peacefully. Several times he cried out and whimpered. The case was getting to him, and we weren’t getting too far.

“He’s on the move already?” 7am, big boy. Let’s roll.

The suspect stopped at what appeared at first to be a safe house called ABC DayCare. Turned to be a day care. He dropped off the accomplice, and then moved on to the concrete jungle. A skyscraper. Where is he going?

“He’s making fools of us. I say we grab him.” NO!!! We wait.

The suspect ate yogurt for lunch. Yogurt. He’s fucking with us. If we were going to solve this, we were going to need some help. We called the Chief.

“Yogurt, huh? Keep building a case, officer.”

Two weeks passed before we sniffed a break. The suspect pulled into the driveway of the house he still appeared to be casing and opened the trunk of his perfectly registered car. With no time to lose, Pat and I slipped from our vehicle without having to unlatch the safety belts that we never use. As we approached, we saw a motherload in the trunk. “Bombs,” Pat whispered to me. Just as I raised the shotgun to crush the suspect’s skull, I observed that the trunk was full of pumpkins.

“Pumpkins? The guy’s fucking with you two. I want this case wrapped up. You hear!”

Several years passed. The suspect had been promoted to a regional manager position. He and the women had added another accomplice. A girl. The woman appeared to be taking yoga three times a week.

“Yoga! Are they monsters?”

As I neared retirement, I knew I needed to put this case to rest. I wouldn’t go out the same way as Pat drinking myself to death. Why would a good officer drink rat poison? He didn’t have a rat problem. Or did he? Did I miss those signs too?