The Return of Sledge Hammer!
The Return of Sledge Hammer!

By Alan Spencer

The following is copyrighted by ASP Productions. All rights reserved. Not to be reprinted or distributed without permission.

Inspector Sledge Hammer was a lawman accustomed to being placed on suspension.

For Hammer, it was as regular an occurrence as buttering toast, flossing teeth or changing the station whenever a Celine Dion song came on.

For Sledge, suspension was an everyday routine he never gave second thought to.

The reason: Hammer doggedly circumvented rules to apprehend criminals. Like the time he failed to obtain a search warrant, crashed his car through a “suspected” kidnapper’s door and parked it in the middle of the slimeball’s living room.

After his “big entrance,” Sledge located a missing fifteen-year-old girl, bound and gagged, hidden in the creep’s attic.

She’d been living on a diet of Slim Fast shakes and Healthy Choice dinners. In other words, she was malnourished… but happy with how her jeans now fit.

Hammer also found the kidnapper… crushed beneath his right tire, squished flatter than a meat patty in a George Foreman grill.

Sledge felt remorse… since the scumbag had died watching TV, a sitcom on ABC, which meant the poor devil went out suffering.

Hammer’s superior officer, Captain Trunk, screamed at Sledge so loudly that it caused two sonic booms and soufflés all around the city to fall.

Officially reprimanded for his actions, Hammer was placed on six month’s suspension.

Hammer was also banned from visiting either Krispy Kreme donuts or Starbucks’ coffee, stripping him of the two essential food groups all growing cops need for strong bodies.

Nevertheless, the rescued girl’s parents managed a “Fast Frame” shop and, to show their appreciation, offered to frame anything for Sledge free of charge.

Sledge took them up on their offer… by dragging in a counterfeiter he’d had trouble convicting.

Inspector Hammer’s suspensions usually didn’t last long, two or three weeks max -- since he was an essential ingredient in the never-ending war against crime.

Sledge was like one of those “eleven secret herbs and spices” in the Colonel’s chicken, with the big difference being it was criminal scum who got “fried.”

By the way, Hammer liked KFC… but refused to eat anything except right wings.

Sledge Hammer was a wild card, unpredictable… with maniacal eyes resembling spinning wheels in a slot machine, which he kept hidden behind dark sunglasses.

Hammer’s wardrobe created a formidable effect: Cheap suits imported from Taiwan sweatshops, mismatched with tacky ties featuring colors louder than a Pearl Jam concert.

Mr. Blackwell considered putting Hammer on his “ten worst dressed list,” but thought better of it since the only piece of clothing Blackwell didn’t own was a bulletproof vest.

All the criminals in the city feared Sledge Hammer. So did most fellow cops.

Female officers too, with the notable exception of one woman: his longtime partner, Detective Dori Doreau.

Doreau had gotten to know Hammer pretty well over the years, mostly through osmosis.

The Berlin wall may have come down, but not the ones surrounding Sledge.

Still, Dori could see that beneath his nihilistic exterior there existed a human being with a good heart… as well as strong kidneys and a healthy spleen.

Unfortunately, Hammer reserved his feelings for only one thing: his gun.

Sledge’s best friend was a trusty .44 Magnum that never left his side.

Hammer even slept with the weapon… lovingly speaking to it the same way a cowboy nonchalantly addressed his horse.

Contrary to popular gossip, the gun was not nicknamed “Trigger.” It was simply called “Gun.”

Sledge and his sidearm were in a deeply committed relationship. He’d never dream of giving a younger pistol a second glance.

Hammer was incapable of loving a woman as much as he did his weapon… despite his father teaching him “that a woman and a gun are a lot alike. Live under the same roof with 'em... and you’ll probably feel the urge to shoot 'em both.”

Sledge never felt that urge towards Dori.

If anything, he wanted her as far away from him as possible.

To Sledge, anyone who wasn’t a criminal was an innocent bystander… and could get hurt.

Sledge was a cop 24/7 and never turned it off, not even after hours. Hammer was once treated for a disorder that caused him to the investigate crimes during sleep.

Still, nothing about Hammer’s idiosyncratic approach to law enforcement prepared for the day when it all came crashing down… like a ton of bricks on a paper dollhouse.

The incident began when Hammer was at home enjoying his favorite "feel good" movie on TV, “Apocalypse Now,” which was rudely interrupted by a high-speed freeway chase.

A trio of Hollywood stunt men, unemployed due to the reality show boon, had robbed a bank and were being pursued on live television by half a dozen cop cars.

The police were no match for the expert driving of these professional stunt men, who not only knew how to elude capture… but also how to find the best possible angles for the news helicopters filming overhead.

The pursuit had lasted long enough to attract sponsors. After seeing the fourth hour “brought to you by Quaker State motor oil,” Hammer decided enough was enough.

And Hammer wasn’t just a man of action… he was a man of gratuitous action.

Driving his dinged up Impala within proximity of the chase… Hammer placed a family heirloom in the middle of the street: A landmine left over from the Korean War.

Sledge had been saving this relic for just the right occasion… and for some reason could never justify detonating it on the 4th of July. For one thing, it might blow up half the city and he'd risk losing the deposit on his apartment.

The antique worked like a charm. When the robber’s vehicle sped over it, the landmine blew a crater in the road wider than Anna Nicole Smith’s mouth at dinnertime.

The thieves’ car fell into the chasm, crashing to the bottom somewhere near China.

Unfortunately, a few of the pursuing squad cars followed suit, careening down the hole… as well as a handful of civilian automobiles.

However, a Domino’s pizza van was able to safely hop the crater… delivering a large pepperoni and onion in a half hour or less.

Hammer’s mayhem was carried on live TV for all of America to witness. It easily beat the competing show in the ratings: “Judge Judy,” which Sledge didn’t care for because she never once dispensed the death penalty.

Inspector Hammer and his history of police brutality were now thrust into the public spotlight.

Sledge’s face was emblazoned across newspapers and magazines, along with headlines decreeing: “The Most Dangerous Man In America Is A Cop – Also A Pisces!”

Time magazine, reviewing Sledge’s “shoot first and ask questions a few months later” methods, reported he’d fired more shots in one week than all the bullets from World Wars 1, 2 and Vietnam combined.

Still, it was noted that Hammer made a point of never firing his Magnum near old people or children, not wishing to expose them to second hand gun smoke.

Even the National Enquirer entered the fray, with a story claiming that Hammer had once pistol-whipped an extraterrestrial.

Despite all the controversy, Sledge did have his supporters.

Charlton Heston wrote Hammer a heartfelt fan letter, bestowing on him an honorary chair in the National Rifle Association. Heston sent along an autographed photo of himself as Moses, signing it: “Thou Shall Not Kill... Must Have Been A Typo.”

Furthermore, “Guns & Ammo” magazine awarded Hammer with a lifetime supply of bullets… as well as targets with Michael Moore’s face on them.

Still, popular opinion was not in the Inspector’s favor.

The liberal pundits and editorial writers loathed Hammer, calling him a “Cro-Magnum,” ignoring the fact that he produced results.

For one thing, Sledge boosted the local economy… increasing funeral home business by at least fifty percent.

Due to widespread media attention, Sledge Hammer wasn’t summoned before the city's Bureau of Internal Affairs… but instead called to face a senate subcommittee headed by an ambitious politician named Doug Quackmeyer.

Senator Quackmeyer used this opportunity to seek publicity for himself… since his hair plugs had fully grown out and his newly bleached teeth were whiter than a picket fence.

Bringing a tribunal against a notorious renegade cop serviced Quackmeyer’s dual agenda of not only raising his profile in Washington… but also guaranteeing him choice seats for Redskins games.

The Senator’s ultimate goal was to become the next President of the United States, so he wouldn’t have to work for a living.

The hearings were televised live from coast to coast, focusing on Hammer’s questionable tactics during a career devoted to fighting both crime and fashion trends.

Hammer struggled to conceal his resentment. Sledge hated politicians, feeling they were the same as salad bars: self-serving.

“Inspector Hammer,” Senator Quackmeyer spoke into the microphone before a packed house. “Based on your record, it would appear that you believe violence is the solution to all the world’s ills… that any problem can be solved with a loud gunshot.”

“That’s bunk,” countered Hammer. “I arrested a woman who shot her husband while he was sleeping… just because the poor guy snored. I found that despicable.”

“Because of the senseless waste of human life?”

“No,” Hammer scoffed. “Because the crazy broad didn’t use a silencer. Why wake the neighbors?”

Murmurs swept the senate chamber.

Quackmeyer continued: “Inspector, you recently used a landmine to halt a high speed pursuit. How do you justify that?”

“Simple,” Hammer replied. “Landmines are an effective deterrent. We didn’t win World War Two by using speed bumps.”

Quackmeyer was appalled, yet fascinated: “What about your fellow officers? Some of their cars were wrecked too.”

“And I feel real bad about it,” Hammer conceded, “but they should have had their brakes checked. Forget landmines -- how about when it rains and the roads are slippery? Or when little squirrels and armadillos cross the street? There’s a lot of hazards out there on the open highway. Comprehendo?”

“And the civilians you inadvertently injured?” The Senator queried. “A Cadillac carrying five divorce lawyers plunged into the crevice. Any regrets?”

“Sure,” Hammer responded. “A Cadillac seats six.”

More rumblings from the crowd. Hammer thought it was a sign he was doing well.

The Senator opined: “So basically what you’re saying, Inspector… is that you’re proud of your unorthodox methods?”

“Unorthodox?” Hammer pondered. “What’s being Gentile got to do with it?”

“Since you’ve broached the subject of religion…” the Senator rifled through a stack of reports. “It says here you once beat a confession out of a Catholic priest while inside a church!”

“We were in a confessional, Senator. When in Rome…”

Hammer tried to explain that the “priest” in question was actually an imposter, a murder suspect who’d jumped bail and used a phony clerical collar to evade authorities… but Quackmeyer cut him off.

“Ever been called a fascist, Inspector?”

“Sure,” Hammer smiled. “On my birthday. They wrote it on the cake.”

“How’d that make you feel?”

Sledge beamed: “Who doesn’t like a compliment?” Hammer opened his jacket, revealing his holstered Magnum: “And you shoulda’ seen me blow the candles… away.”

“I’ve heard enough,” Quackmeyer declared. “You’re as much a menace to society as the criminal element you’re supposed to be containing.”

Hammer rose from his chair: “Now hold on, jerk weed. I serve the taxpayers better than you do... plus, I get paid less.”

The murmuring intensified.

Sledge continued on through clenched teeth: “It’s a jungle out there with a lot of nasty carnivores… so big game hunters like me gotta’ play rougher to keep that veggie platter you’re sitting on from getting gobbled up whole.”

The subcommittee was mortified.

“Who do you think you are?” Quackmeyer blustered.

“A cop,” Hammer responded. “And when you’ve got rats in your kitchen, you don’t pay an exterminator to give ‘em bubble baths and flea collars.”

Some of the spectators chuckled.

Sledge was on a roll: “You wanna’ do a public service, Senator? Lower the legal age for owning a handgun to eight years old. That would make our cities safer.”

“Are you out of your mind?” Quackmeyer exclaimed. “What would you call a city where every man, woman and child walked around carrying a gun?”

“Los Angeles,” Hammer offered.

“It would be anarchy… a shooting gallery!” Quackmeyer bellowed: “I can’t believe your anachronistic brand of Wild West totalitarianism has been allowed to go on for as long as it has!”

“That’s because it works… and it’s not half as long as that sentence you just said.”

With the pound of a gavel, the hearing abruptly ended.

No one was allowed to testify in Sledge’s defense.

Not Doreau, or Trunk who freely admitted Hammer was a liability, but felt disciplining him was his personal responsibility... and his alone.

The senate committee considered forcing Hammer into early retirement, but that left the potential for him to seek other employment where he still might carry a gun.

It could be risky: If Hammer were hired as a security guard at Wal-Mart… aggressive female shoppers during a linen sale might be gunned down in cold blood.

So, the senate committee placed Inspector Sledge Hammer on indefinite suspension.

Hammer took it in stride, figuring it might last no more than a month or two… the average length of Robert Downey Jr.’s sobriety.

Besides, it would give Sledge time to work on his golf swing. He didn’t play the game per se… just enjoyed using the clubs on suspects’ skulls.

So, Hammer’s suspension began.

A few weeks went by, which turned into a month…

Then another month, and another month after that…

Gradually, the months dragged into years.

Hammer couldn’t believe it. He’d never been sidelined this long, all dressed up with nowhere to go ballistic.

Doreau tried to keep in touch during this difficult time, but Hammer stayed reclusive, aloof… invulnerable.

Finally, even Doreau gave up on him.

Later, Sledge heard through the grapevine that after so many years of police work, Dori craved a simpler life, turned in her badge and left the force to marry a podiatrist she met during a foot fetish case.

Being a podiatrist was one occupation Hammer never understood. Why would anybody want to psychoanalyze feet?

Captain Trunk also underwent life changes, finding himself promoted to Chief of Police.

Apparently, city hall felt it beneficial to give the job to a minority member.

Reading about it in the paper, Sledge was astonished to learn his former superior officer was black. Since Trunk was always screaming at him, the only color Hammer remembered the man’s face being was beet red.

Hammer’s indefinite suspension felt like a school bully kicking sands of time into his face, denying an opportunity for him to settle the score by squeezing a trigger.

Sledge was driven stir crazy, and it was already a short trip.

One day, Hammer noticed some ants in his apartment and saw this as a chance to dispense a little justice.

Unfortunately, a watchdog group called PETI, People for the Ethical Treatment of Insects, wouldn’t even allow Sledge to squish bugs.

“What’s the world coming to,” Hammer remarked to his Magnum, “when you can’t even kill an insect?”

Undaunted, Sledge captured the pests, imprisoned them in an ant farm and dubbed it the world’s smallest penal colony.

Every New Year’s Eve also proved particularly hard on Sledge.

It wasn’t the sounds of people partying in the streets that made him envious… but those idiots in their backyards firing handguns into the air at midnight.

Hammer would give anything to be one of those idiots.

While Sledge’s gun may have been silent, its owner wasn’t. Hammer talked to his revolver incessantly, reading books to it before bedtime.

Gun was literally all Hammer had left in the world.

And while Hammer hadn’t changed, the world around him did. He saw it all unfold before his very eyes on television.

The lowlife criminals in America became businessmen in three-piece suits that never fired a single shot: Enron executives, caught red-handed, depriving a cop of the simple joys of a cruel and sadistic interrogation.

And Sledge couldn’t believe how O.J. Simpson went free. In Hammer’s mind, the “Juice” should have been convicted for being such a lousy actor.

Speaking of acting, Hammer hated all the contemporary cop shows like “CSI” where everything was done “by the book.” No one planted evidence or lied under oath.

Also, the forensic team was always dusting… like maids. If their crime scene was a hotel room, Hammer suspected the wimps left mints under the pillows.

By far the worst show on television, in Sledge’s opinion, was “Survivor.”

First off, the title was misleading... giving the false impression people were killed.

Still… Hammer briefly considered becoming a contestant, but doubted they’d let him bring a bazooka and hand grenades to the island.

Sledge felt America was heading in the wrong direction. It had become gentle, soft and interminably peaceful.

One thing Hammer knew for sure: You could always count on those tides changing.

And when Hammer placed his beloved Magnum on the pillow beside him and drifted off to sleep, he dreamt of a day when chaos and disorder would make a welcome return.

Because that would be the day that Sledge Hammer and his “Gun” would be needed again.

Sure enough, years later… Hammer awoke one morning to discover a world where evildoers had returned in droves, forcing American to return to its proud ass kickin’ roots.

For the first time, Sledge found a politician he actually liked: George W. Bush.

Hammer respected a President who mostly talked about war and blowing things up… with a foreign policy that amounted to blasting other countries to smithereens.

In fact, Hammer had been vacationing in Florida during the last election… and was so impressed by candidate Bush that he voted for him three times.

Hammer sincerely hoped that when the U.S. was done obliterating all the vermin on foreign soil… the current administration could be convinced to attack Wisconsin, since that’s where Sledge’s ex-wife was living.

And as Hammer was savoring this blissful thought, the phone rang.

Sledge didn’t recognize the voice on the other end, but he did recognize the man’s title: Head of Homeland Security.

Hammer accepted the collect call.

And subsequently, Sledge was informed of a new and powerful weapon that had fallen into the wrong hands… and how the higher-ups in Washington felt the time had come to fight fire with gunfire.

So… after fifteen long years, Inspector Sledge Hammer was taken off suspension.

Once again, it was “Hammer time.”



To Be Continued...


Trust Him. He still knows what he is doing.