Pt. 3: ‘A Sweet Briar License’
Gregory V. Boulware, Esq.
The news media took the ball and ran with it. The headlines blasted the story of the attack of Czepaky and her children on the front pages of their respective papers. Television news programs portrayed the mother and her children as their leading news story. Radio news did likewise. And still they did not mention Lindsey Irvin.
The zoo officials blasted Professor Rockford’s account of a creature the size and magnitude as described. “It is impossible for a bear to be roaming around in Philadelphia’s Fairmount Park…even with its vast resources and acreage. A Kodiak Bear is highly unlikely to be roaming about in this part of the country. It’s the middle of November for Christ Sake…bears hibernate in the winter.” A reporter from one of Philly’s papers was hanging around after the mayor’s meeting. The reporter fired a question to the zoo official. “How do you explain the attack on the woman and her kids?” “And what about the little Black Kid that was killed a few weeks ago?” “You did say bears hibernate in the winter…what about Professor Rockford’s explanation of bears stirring and taking a walk while sleeping in the winter?” “What about the people who saw the thing…how do you explain all that?” The zoo officials walked out of the room and down the stairway to the parking area. The reporter headed towards the police commissioner who was standing just outside the Mayor’s Office, a few feet from the meeting room. He then asked the commissioner about the way the meeting was held. “Commissioner Talis, do you think the meeting was utilized for public safety or for personal gain?” Talis glared at the reporter who also attracted other reporters that were hanging about in the corridor. He thought carefully before answering, “I think the mayor knows what she is doing. However, I feel that it should have been handled a bit more privately – my concerns are public safety – public panic…especially with the upcoming walk-athons, regattas, and general park users. I’m afraid of public panic over this situation. Personal gain is not on my agenda…now if you’ll excuse me, I have work to do.” The reporter fired back while pursuing the commissioner to the official user’s elevator, “what did you think about the professors’ presentation…what about the Black Kid?” The commissioner answered, “the presentation was informative…I could have gotten that stuff from the zoo people”…the elevator doors closed. The reporter, himself Black, wondered about today’s events as he double-checked his digital voice recorder. He also wondered, while walking down the stairwell of City Hall, how the family of Lindsey Irvin was dealing with the latest attack.
A heavy police presence saturated both sides of the Schuylkill River, from the East Falls Bridge to the Art Museum and Eakins Oval. The Marine Unit of The Philadelphia Police Department could not find anything that would indicate the whereabouts of the bear or the body of he suspected dead teenager. The order was given to start a diving search and rescue effect. “We don’t expect to find the boy alive, “ said one team commander to another diving squad commander. “But we do expect to find his body.” Two divers were set to go into the water. Assistant team members double-checked their gear. They made sure that the underwater radios and flashlights were operating correctly. The divers entered the water under the Girard Avenue Bridge, just down river from the viewing stand and Goose Island, which sat smack in the middle of the river directly across from the viewing stand automobile parking lot. Another set of divers was preparing to enter the water from up-stream, the East Falls Bridge shoreline. The first set of divers reached Goose Island while police water craft motored above, from one end of the river to the other. The first set of divers dove deep into the river bottom and root of the island. The murky water disclosed various underwater caves around the perimeter or the island. “There’s a bunch of cave openings at the center and bottom of the island, Sergeant Miller,” said the first diver. “Besides a bund of fish and fowl carcasses, car parts, a car chassis, tree limbs, and other debris…I’d like to see what’s in one of these caves.” “Make sure your partner keeps watch behind you, diver…I don’t want any mishaps down there.” I’m dispatching a couple of boats to monitor above you while you’re in there.” “Go ahead and investigate the cave,” said the sergeant. The diver signaled to his partner to watch his back. The first diver entered the water, climbing over large tree roots and stumps, he was careful to stay afloat…the muddy river bottom was like quicksand. In an attempt to stand, the officer’s feet made contact with the rivers muddy bottom. The muck seemed to envelope his entire foot and leg as it virtually sucked him downward into the mire. The muck seemed to suck down anything that made contact with it. The diver shined his light up and down and side-to-side of the cave walls submerged under water while marine inhabitants scurried.
The Carp, Sunnys, Blues, and Eels scurried out of the path of the light and the diver. “Hey Jeff”, said the first diver to the second. “There’s a path and open air in here.” The diver traveled about twenty-five feet from the murky black bottom entranceway into the cave. The trail in the island’s belly began to turn into dry soil as the diver ascended. He turned off his oxygen while removing his scuba mask and spoke into his radio. “Jeff…come in here…you’ve gotta see this.”
Harold Risehold (the 1st diver) was astonished at the discovery his partner Jeff Scott, was about to disclose and he…about to witness. A skull, partially decomposed, lay between two rocks in a corner of the cave. When Harold reached to pick it up, a small catfish darted from the socket of an empty left eye socket. Harold jumped backwards and fell with a loud splash into a pile of gucky and smelly mud. The two officers were shocked at the find and spooked by the thought of being here if and when the creature decided to come back here to this cave. After composure set in on he pair, the men gathered the skull and a few scattered bones, which appeared to be the lower lumbar section of a human, for evidentiary examination. They also photographed the unusually large paw and claw prints as seen throughout the cave. Live and dead inhabitants with other specimen was documented and photographed as well. “Let’s gather this shit and get the hell out of here. I’ve got a bad feeling about this place!” exclaimed Harold while caressing the large Bowie knife strapped to his right leg. The two men hurried their work. Suddenly, a loud splash and gurgling sound caused the hair on their necks to stand at attention. “Jeff…let’s go – NOW!” “If we’ve missed something, let the big wigs handle it…let’s move…get out.” Quietly, excitedly, and panicky – almost silently was the high pitched cry of Risehold. The divers raced into the water away from the sound…donning their gear on the fly.
The divers reached the surface of the water and hurriedly entered the waiting police marine search and rescue boat. They were happy the backup boats were there because they did not want to swim back to the point of origin. They were visibly frightened and glad to be on the way back to shore. The West side of the river endured a traffic backup just as the four officers reached their destination on the East side of the Schuylkill. The other boat headed back up river towards the Falls Bridge.
Officers arrived at the accident scene on the West River side just before the “Sweet Briar Cutoff.” A car and a pickup truck were engaged in a fender-bender just about at about 8 p.m. The female driver of the car stated that she’d seen something huge run across the roadway. The other drivers of stopped vehicles concurred – “It was huge”, screamed another of the other motorists! “It disappeared into the woods up the hill towards the expressway!” One of the cops appeared to be complacent, “yeah…ok, let’s see your cards”, referring to the vehicle owners’, insurance identification cards, and drivers license(s). Both drivers produced the required documentation. The other cop walked over to where the motorists pointed the animals running route. Four motorists, two men and two women with outstretched fingers, pointed to the direction. The owners of two of the six stopped cars stood frozen with uncertainty…their eyes wide open as they peered from the left and to the right. They were very afraid. The cop was out of sight for all of a few minutes. Suddenly, the cop appeared from the bushes…running from the thickness of the wooded area – straight to his waiting police cruiser – the man screamed into the radio microphone! “EMERGENCY – EMERGENCY, THIS IS CAR #1407…BADGE NUMBER 3722, GET BACKUP OUT HERE IMMEDIATELY – ALERT…ALERT THE CAPTAIN AND THE SWAT TEAM – IT’S HERE, IT’S HERE!”
The motorists who were fearful had every right to be alarmed. The larger than life beast, silhouetted by the full moonlight, burst from the thicket in hot pursuit of the inquisitive bush- searching officer. The unfrozen motorists ran for their cars. One of the female motorists became a pillar of screams. The cars attempted to flee…but could not due to the police cruisers blocking the westbound lanes of the West River Drive. The Giant Kodiak roared. The sound was deafening. It sounded like thunder and lightning as the monster crashed and cracked tree limbs with its massive frame. The beast roared again and showed its glistening seven-inch fangs that dripped with spittle and foam. It attacked the cruiser of the escaping cop while he was still in it. The cop sat in horror – screaming into the radio’s microphone. The officer never had an opportunity to draw his service weapon, glock 9mm semi-automatic handgun. The over-whelming attacker hit the driver side door with a swipe of its right tree-trunk sized arm. The thick paw housed eight-inch claws. The driver side door of the car crumpled as glass shattered from its window. The second blow from the beast ripped the door from the car completely. The door disappeared into the night. The third swipe brought the helpless cop into the jaws of the giant. The blood curdling screams of the man pierced the otherwise quiet nighttime air. Blood gushed from the mouth, ears, and eyes of the bears prey as the beast’s punch-press jaws cracked the rib cage and ripped his middle with the seven-inch fangs. The Kodiak’s jaws were massive…several thousand pounds of lightning fast jaw muscle crushed the officer’s torso like teeth cutting a potato chip. The innards were ripped out with the splashing of blood, flew everywhere as the beast began to dine. The bears mouth was so large that it enabled the envelopment of the large mans’ entire mid-section. The second cop, as were the witnessing motorists, was frozen in horror as he was forced to watch his partner being eaten alive. He fired his weapon at the beast to no avail. The officer emptied his service weapon into the back of the ravaging behemoth with no affect. The animal, annoyed at this nuisance, turned and looked at the thing that was interfering with its meal. The large red and white moonlit hate filled eyes sent ice water through the veins of the assaulting officer. The animal stood on its hind legs, looking down on the hapless being. Fifteen feet of bristled fur and muscle was too much for the eyes of the officer to drink…standing on its hind legs, the beast swung its massive paw and flipped over what was left of the dead cops cruiser. The flying car missed the surviving officer by mere inches. The police officer was frozen with fear as he starred at the glistening fangs…white as ivory, dripping blood and guts. The officer attempted to re-load his weapon while the approaching animal descended upon him. Before the cop could look up again, the mouth of the bear engulfed the human from head to waist. One bite of its vicious cavernous jaws left the lower half of the man standing…the limp remains, waist to feet, dropped to the pavement in a bloody heap. The lower half of the man was picked up by the beast with its jaws and carried off as the animal glared back at the remaining fright-filled, dumb-founded, and frozen motorists. The monster bear sauntered off towards the rivers edge; its jaws dripped human blood and human legs dangled as it disappeared into the river-brush.
The pickup truck driver managed to make a statement out loud while standing with several other horror-filled people, “Damn…the cop didn’t give me back my driver’s license!”
Next Week: Part 4: “A Pillar of Salt”