This is part of an ongoing series called Graveyard Shift. It can be read alone or you can roll back in my archives and start from the beginning.
A young and idealistic “Officer Jimmy”, as he was then known had been stationed at his favorite speed trap, the intersection of 2nd and main. It was at the bottom of a hill and cars came down it way too fast. This particular intersection was home to a very busy crosswalk and Jimmy, as every other cop in town was concerned about someone getting hit by a speeder. A lot of stops were made there out of a regard for safety and of course revenue generation and many tickets were issued. Officer Jimmy wasn’t big on tickets, he was more about keeping people safe. He believed that “Protect and Serve” was a lost notion, that cops now were all about busting heads and acting tough. Not him. He would never be like that. He always tried to live by his father’s famous mantra, “Always be nice. Until it’s time not to.” He had heard it so many times he might as well have had it tattooed on his forehead. It was his go-to first reaction in almost all situations and it had served him well.
Until that night.
Jimmy had been sitting in his car getting caught up on some reports when he spotted the headlights come over the hill. He immediately saw that the driver was operating erratically and speeding. He put his report book on the passenger seat and studied the vehicle’s approach to the intersection. He watched as the car screeched to a stop well over the line. Jimmy waited until the car crossed the intersection, pulled out behind him and hit the siren and lights. The driver pulled over immediately and Jimmy could see him fumbling in the glove box. He approached the car from the drivers side and pointed his flashlight at the driver. A clearly disoriented and intoxicated young man squinted back at him. His pupils were dilated and when he spoke all doubt about his condition was removed.
“Good evening Officer.” His voice was slurred.
“Good evening. License and Registration please.” The young man handed them through the open window. Jimmy reviewed them quickly, put them in his breast pocket and ordered him out of the car. The young man complied. He was wobbly as he stood up and he reeked of alcohol.
“Been drinking tonight?” Jimmy asked him.
“Yessir.” The young man replied. “Do I get points for honesty?”
“You do, but you lose points for driving shitfaced at 11:30 on a Tuesday night.”
“I’m sorry, Sir.”
“Sir?, I’m not a sir. It’s Officer McInerney. And I’m not sure ‘Sorry’ cuts it when we’re talking about public safety.”
The young man bowed his head sheepishly.
Officer McInerney gave him a thorough sobriety test which the young man summarily failed. He knew it. He put out his hands and waited for the handcuffs. Jimmy had another idea.
“This your correct address?” He was holding the young man’s license.
“That’s two blocks from here. I’m going to follow you home. You’re going to go in your house and you are going to stay there. And you will think twice before doing this again. Got it?”
“Yes, Officer.” The young man was clearly relieved and elated.
“Get in and go. Slowly”, Jimmy instructed.
The young man got in before Jimmy could change his mind. As promised he drove home. Slowly. Jimmy followed him home and watched the young man park his car, get out and walk to the front door. He waved to Jimmy, showed his keys in his hand and went inside. Goodnight Henry James Douglas. He felt pretty good about how he had handled the situation.
Later that night his quiet shift was interrupted by dispatch ordering all available units to a vehicular crash across town. He could already hear the Fire Department and EMT’s sirens en route to the scene. As he threw his Crown Vic into gear and headed out he heard over the radio, “Multiple injuries, possible fatality.”
When Officer McInerney arrived on the scene his stomach momentarily sunk. The two vehicles had collided head on. There was glass and debris everywhere. EMT’S and Firefighters scrambled as they attended to the victims. He immediately recognized one of the vehicles. His heart almost stopped.
He looked around and there was a bloodied Henry James Douglas being pushed into the back of a cruiser, handcuffed. As his head was ducked into the cruiser Henry turned to look at him. They made eye contact. Jimmy momentarily fought off the sinking feeling in his stomach as he rushed to assist the first responders with the accident scene.
This is not going to end well…