Not as it seems

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.

Please don’t puke. Please don’t puke Sergeant Valentine pleaded to an unspecified deity.
“You ok back there, girl?”, he asked his passenger.
The young lady lazily lifted her head from her lap and managed to grunt “Yes.” A questionable burp followed. She put her head back in her lap.
She’s gonna puke in my nice clean squad car. He breathed a sigh of relief when he pulled in front of her house. It wasn’t student housing or a dormitory, instead it was a private residence. He put the cruiser in park, got out and opened the rear door. He extended a hand to her and said, “OK, you’re home. Come on out.” Realizing that she was unable to do it on her own he reached into the back seat and helped her to her feet. He threw her arm around his shoulder and slowly helped her up the cobblestone walk to the front door. As he was about to try the handle, a woman about his age opened the door.
“What’s going on?”, she asked quizically.
“Good evening, ma’am. I’m Sergeant Valentine and I think I have your daughter, this is your daughter?”
She nodded in agreement. “Is she in trouble?”
“No, ma’am. I took her home under protective custody.” The mother looked confused. “Your daughter has had too much to drink this evening.”
“My daughter doesn’t drink!” she exclaimed.
“Are you quite sure about that?” Mike asked her.
“Positive. Her dad was a mean drunk and she cringes at the smell of it.”
The hair on the back of Mike’s neck stood up. There was clearly more going on here than he thought. This wasn’t adding up.
As if on cue, the young woman stepped off of the steps and began to vomit violently into the bushes. Mike held her up, instinctively pulling her hair back.
“Ma’am, if you’re quite sure. You ARE quite sure?”
“If you’re quite sure”, he continued. “I’d like to have her taken to the hospital and have a tox screen done on her. Something is not right.”
The mother stepped out of the house and knelt down to comfort her daughter. The young woman had ceased vomiting. Mike assisted the mother in sitting her upright on the stairs. As he did the sleeve of her shirt cleaved and Mike’s trained eye immediately zoomed in on the track marks on her forearm.
Well that explains a lot, he thought.
He called for a ambulance and waited with them until it arrived.


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.

“I swear, she came in like that.” The heavy set bartender said. “I never served her a drink. She never ordered one.”
“I’m not sure I believe you,” Officer Jimmy McInerney said.
“I don’t care if you believe me, I’m telling you the truth.”
“Watch your attitude”, Jimmy shot him a look. He wasn’t the biggest guy on the force but his mannerisms and demeanor commanded respect.
“Look”, the bartender said. “She came in, she went right to the dance floor, was hanging all over some guys. Made a real spectacle of herself so I had the bouncers toss her out.”
“Will your bouncers corroborate that story?”
“Do a better job on the sidewalk also. You dumped her out there and a bunch of assholes did nothing but stand there and look at her. That shit reflects on you as a business. Got it?”
“You got it, Jimmy”, the bartender replied.
“Officer McInerney.”
“Got it, Officer McInerney.”
Jimmy gave him a long look as if to say “I mean it” and walked out. For emphasis he banged his nightstick on the edge of the mahogany bar. The crowd cleared the way for him as he stepped outside. The band of idiots that felt it was ok to watch a drunk girl helpless on the sidewalk without helping was gone. With a smirk, Jimmy mused to himself, Valentine would be proud.

Officer James “Jimmy” McInerney wasn’t a hardass by any means, despite the side of him that he had just displayed. In fact, he was known as a fair, honest and reasonable man around town. He had grown up here, was a very popular guy in High School and after graduating college in New York moved back and joined the Police force. Being a familiar figure around town, Jimmy let a lot of people off with warnings. It was his nature. His style of policing worked in a small college town. But in recent years the town had changed.

Jimmy had watched his quiet college town of 35,000 during the school year and 25,000 in the summer grow into a bustling community. A new teaching Hospital, followed by a Software Company had drawn young professionals and downsized workers from all over. Urban sprawl and a boom in population followed. The sharp increase in population forced the town’s Police Department to modify its procedures and adapt to a city mentality. Jimmy reluctantly joined in lockstep. He had to. He knew that he was lucky to still have a job after the events of August 2005.

On the night of August 28, 2005 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 was 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.

to be continued…

Day 14…a letter to my favorite professor

Dear Professor “AARP”

I want to thank you for the “elective” that I stumbled over and loved the most.

It was registration day, the second half of my Junior year of college and I needed a fifth class. I saw “Geriatric Psychology” on the list of courses with openings and I thought what the hell? I registered.

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Little did I know that you, the professor, were “Geriatric” as well. A very dapper, very vibrant but clearly elderly gentleman was teaching a course on the psychology of, well, himself! I knew I was in for a fun ride.

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You insisted on being known as “Professor AARP”. It broke the ice a bit. You spoke to us at great length of what it is like to be old. To feel minimized, irrelevant, past one’s prime. The significance of a driver’s license and how it ties into one’s independence. Asking for help with tasks that were once easy. And on a more intimate note, you made us think about how much advancement people your age have witnessed in your lifetime. I don’t think my classmates had thought much about these things until they met you.

As far as I was concerned, you were preaching to the choir. I have always enjoyed the company of older people. As a child, my Grandparents took me frequently to their events and their friends loved me. I was fascinated by their tales, by what they had seen in their lives. I love the stories of how “it” used to be. Dating was called “courting”. They “went steady” with their favorite “gal” or “guy”. Their music. The fact that they wore suits to go the supermarket.

You were no exception. When I asked you to join me for a coffee in the cafe one day after class you said: “why do you want to hang out with an old guy like me.” I told you that I saw no such guy. We talked many times over coffee that semester. You were at the tail end of your career, bordering on retirement. This was the last time you would teach this class because it was being dropped from the curriculum. You found that very telling in and of itself. I told you how much I was enjoying it. I think it mattered to you.

It was just an elective, but you sir were not just a professor. You were a very nice man with a refreshing outlook on life that many could learn from.  I can’t speak for everyone but I certainly learned a lot from you. I still, to this day have many elderly friends. I think of you often as I spend time with them. You were a friend.

I suspect that you have been gone for at least 20 years as I write this. Clearly, you made an impact on someone.

A grateful student.