Here you have it, ladies and gents. The opening scene to Book Two in the It Happened series – It Happened in Gastown. Somewhat darker than the first in the series, but I promise along with the heavy stuff there will be sweet romance.
Out on routine patrol, Constables Hilary Dunbar and her partner Nik Kalivas drove north on Cambie Street towards the Gastown Steam Clock. As they passed the end of Blood Alley, she shouted, “Back up. Something’s down there.”
“Your imagination getting the better of you again?” He teased, but pulled over to the curb and slowly reversed until they blocked the mouth of the narrow passage. Originally the lane was called Trounce Alley. Some maps still referred to the laneway as that. Others labelled the back street Blood Alley. Given the appearance, Hilary thought the latter was more appropriate.
Window down, she trained the beam from the powerful spotlight mounted on the cruiser’s mirror into the alleyway. “See, beyond those dumpsters.”
“Likely just garbage.”
“Wait here; I’m going to take a closer look.”
Before exiting the car, she plucked a pair of nitrile gloves and the naloxone kit from the glove compartment. Once out, she shoved them in the pockets of her trousers. With the fingertips of her right brushing her gun holster and gripping the barrel of the torch in her left, she sidled towards the object. Graffiti tags covered the walls of the buildings as well as the wooden hydro poles. The further into the confined space she crept, the hairs on the nape of her neck bristled beneath the bun in which she styled her black hair. Whatever was down there, it wasn’t rubbish as Nik said. The pong of stale urine made her eyes water.
Past the second dumpster, the body of a young man leaned against the wall. Dishevelled and filthy, his body odour was strong enough to make the foulest of skunk spray seem mild. At first glance, he appeared dead. His skin had a bluish tinge, and weeping sores dotted his face. Dark circles surrounded his eyes. Inching forward, Hilary squatted beside him. A blood-filled syringe protruded from his left arm. Flashlight held under her chin; she donned the synthetic rubber gloves she brought with her and felt his neck for a pulse. The rhythmic pulse beneath her fingertips was barely discernible.
The naloxone. The kit had been made available to officers who wanted it. Nik was against carrying the opioid blocker in the cruiser, but Hilary persuaded him. Now was the time to use it. She took the package out of her other trouser pocket, peeled it open and placed the nozzle in the victim’s left nostril and pressed the plunger.
She keyed the mic on her handset and started to speak. “Constable Dunbar.” As if on cue the nearby Steam Clock began whistling. No sense in trying to outperform the thing. Wait until it finished its proclamation of the top of the hour. Soon relative quiet returned and Hilary tried again. “Constable Dunbar. Badge 8652. I need an ambulance at Blood Alley and Cambie Street. Suspected drug overdose. Have administered four milligrams of Narcan nasal spray. No response as of yet.”
By now, Nik had the cruiser’s roof lights on. Blue, red and white alternating then running from the driver’s side to the passenger’s side of the vehicle.
The wail of the siren grew louder. In minutes, paramedics jumped out and trundled a stretcher and medical equipment to the stricken person.
Hilary stood back, letting them do their jobs. “I gave him Narcan,” she said, handing the spent plastic bottle to one of them.
“He’s alive … just. You found him in time. We’ve bagged the needle so they can run tests on it at the hospital. Figure out what he shot into his veins.”