Chapter 4

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Above photo: New Bloomfield, PA square with courthouse and monument.

Pennsylvania State Police Trooper Petronia Henning cruised along PA route 34 through the Borough of Newport, PA toward the county seat of New Bloomfield. Residents there had been complaining about excessive speeding. Last week a drunken out-of-towner lost control of his sedan, left the roadway, and had nearly run into the courthouse building.

Since criminal court was in session this morning, the normally sleepy little town would experience a marked increase in traffic and pedestrian activity. Petronia had been assigned to patrol the area and enforce the speed limit.

She hated speed enforcement. Although she recognized it as a part of her job, long hours operating a radar gun bored her. Not that she had any desire to plunge into a firefight with violent criminals, but she sometimes wished things were a little livelier. Fat chance of that happening in relatively peaceful, rural Perry County.

"Careful what you wish for," she mumbled while checking the vehicle inspection sticker of an oncoming SUV passing by in the other lane. In reality, she was grateful for being posted here in the county where she had grown up.

Petronia slowed when entering the borough and navigated her cruiser around the monument in the center of town. She parallel parked a block from the courthouse and checked the time, five after eight in the morning.

She grabbed her trooper hat and set it on her head, noticing how tight it fit. Her regulation pixie cut needed a trim.

Credit: Photo of a female PA State Police Trooper from website: www

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Credit: Photo of a female PA State Police Trooper from website: www.patrooper.com

A dump truck roared past so fast that the wind in its wake rocked her cruiser. She saw the driver jam on the breaks before careening around the monument.

"That idiot is going to kill someone." She fired up the cruiser, switched on the lights and siren, and gave chase.

The dump truck traveled nearly a half-mile before she caught up. The driver pulled over onto a wide shoulder after passing the cutoff to the Perry County prison.

Petronia called in her location to dispatch, jammed the hat more securely on her head, fixed the chin strap, and climbed out of the cruiser. While shielded by the door, she unbuttoned the flap to her handgun as a precaution and took her time approaching the driver door while assessing the situation.

An oversize side mirror allowed her to see the reflection of the man behind the wheel. He yanked sunglasses from his face and scowled.

Too late, she realized she should have slipped into her jacket. She walked face first into a cold November gust. Dead leaves streamed by her. The wind stung her eyes making them water.

The dump truck sat high off the road making it difficult for her to inspect the inside of the cab. She'd have to be extra vigilant.

The driver powered down his window. White, male, he looked to be in his thirties, wavy red hair, wearing a wool shirt. When the man saw her, his scowl turned into a smirk. "Didn't know you was a woman."

She ignored his quip. "Sir, I'm going to need to see your driver's license, vehicle registration, and proof of insurance, please."

He shook his head. "A female statey, and a pretty one at that."

She needed to gain this man's respect. Best way to do that would be to ignore his sexist comments—no matter how much it pissed her off to do so—and maintain her professional demeanor. She cleared her throat and tried speaking as authoritatively as possible over the roaring wind. "License, registration, and proof of insurance."

The driver wore a surprised expression and pointed a finger at his chest. "Why? Was I over?"

"Sir, I'm not going to ask you again."

He held up both hands in the classic don't shoot me pose. "Okay, babe, no problem."

She entertained the fantasy of pulling her gun and shooting the asshole in the face. "My name is Trooper Henning, or if you prefer, you can call me ma'am.

He scoffed and pulled down his sun visor. From a plastic document holder attached to the back of the visor he removed some papers, studied them, and reached them out the window. In the split second before she closed her hand around the documents, he let them slip through his fingers. The wind carried them away with the leaves.

He chuckled. "Oops."

She watched the papers blow across the street and into the weeds.

The man leered at her. "Now look what you did. Guess you better go get 'em before they get lost."

Petronia could imagine his delight at seeing her running around like a little girl, chasing down his credentials. Wasn't going to happen. "Sir, I'm going to need you to step out of your vehicle."

He sniffed the air. "It's cold out there."

She shivered, not knowing whether it was from the chill air or from adrenaline coursing through her body. She rested a hand on the butt of her handgun. "Out of the truck. Now."

He twisted in his seat and leaned both of his forearms on the open window frame. He looked down at her. "I got a better idea. 'Stead of me stepping out, why don't you climb into my nice warm cab with me? We can get better acquainted."

Having run out of patience, she grabbed the dump truck door handle and yanked it open. The driver, having leaned his weight against the window frame, lost his balance and started to fall out. Petronia helped gravity. She grabbed his wool shirt and wrenched the man from his seat. He tumbled face first into the cinders of the road shoulder.

The man shouted obscenities, but before he could get up, she pinned him by placing both knees on his back. She grabbed an arm and cuffed his wrist.

He screamed and yelled, "Not so rough. I have a torn rotator cuff. Get off me."

She ignored him and grabbed his other wrist, cuffed it. Next, she kicked his legs apart and patted him down for weapons.

The man cursed, calling her nasty names. "Am I under arrest, or what?"

"Yeah, you're under arrest." After a pause, she added, "Sir."

Does Pet's career choice surprise you?

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Does Pet's career choice surprise you?

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