Second chance

“You’re full of yourself”.
That one hit hard.
She didn’t mean it in a hurtful way.
She was trying to help
with my next girl.
The next girl…
who will that be
when I still want that one?
I made some mistakes.
I pushed.
I was excited.
I felt emotions long lost.
Ones that I hadn’t felt in a long time.
That I never thought I’d feel again.
affection…
intimacy…
connection

long lost and thought dead
bubbling to the surface

I didn’t know at the time
it was the wine

how did I not see it?
She told me at the beginning
Not ready
Not looking
I need time

But through
and over the walls…
we connected
I saw the real you
and I liked it

but I didn’t show you the real me

I’m not insecure
I lack experience
I don’t have it all together
still picking up the pieces
I’m not full of myself
It’s a shield
a costume
flowing cape optional
my message to the world
that I’m still standing
shoulders back
chest out
not out of pride
or hubris
or arrogance

but to anticipate the next blow

how do I show you the real me?
get a second chance
at a first impression?

not full of myself
but full of life
hope
yearning
desire
gratitude
faith

and regrets

I failed to show you the real me


Mercy

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.

Mercy Hospital was the closest Hospital to the young woman’s house but picking up Jimmy had set him back. He was anxious to get there and see what the Toxicology screen revealed. He knew that he was going to be early and would ultimately end up pacing the hallways or standing there impatiently tapping his foot. Patience was not a virtue often attributed to Sergeant Mike Valentine.
He stared dead ahead as he dodged the occasional traffic on the streets of Garrison, MA. Most cars saw the lights and willingly moved over. Others needed a blast of the siren to move out of the way. Fuckin’ drunks, Mike attributed to the ones that didn’t move right away. It’s their lucky night, I’ve got other shit to attend to. He couldn’t get his mind off the girl. He had a soft spot for all the kids, even when they acted like dumb shits. “Kids will be kids” was a common mantra of his. He knew that the late teens and early twenties were times to make mistakes, lord knows he made a lot of them at that age and he was no hypocrite.
In a predominately college town, he didn’t make Sergeant by not knowing how to deal with kids. He wasn’t as notorious as his partner for leniency but he was known for solid judgment and being fair, even if his leniency was sometimes accompanied by a good lecture. It was the father in him. He knew how to pick his battles and what to make a big deal of and he took that mentality to work. A lot of his calls were college students fighting, drinking, the occasional hazing and pranks. He put on a good show with the lights and siren and cuffed more than a few only to let them go after scaring them a bit but he inevitably let them go. Again, kids will be kids. They’re going to drink and when there’s booze involved idiocy soon follows. But he drew the line at drugs. He hated drugs. He thought of anyone that used as a dumbass, and if he had his way dealers would hang by their balls in public.
He now knew the girl he was going to check up on was on drugs. Watching her being loaded into the ambulance he studied her mannerisms. The faraway, disoriented look on her face wasn’t like any drunk he had ever seen. She wasn’t silly, clumsy or even coherent. She was high. He didn’t know whether to feel bad for this girl or be pissed off at her. The father in him needed to know if she did it, or did someone do it to her.
She reminds me of Sarah for Christs sake.

Last call

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.

Jimmy McInerney stood on the curb outside of O’malley’s impatiently waiting for his ride. He had interviewed all 3 bouncers, 2 patrons and Mike was still not back.
Where the hell is he? How long does it take to give a drunk chick a ride home? Jesus.
As if on cue his radio crackled.
“Unit 7 en route to Mercy Hospital.”
“10-4 Unit 7”, dispatch responded.
Jimmy reached for the radio mike on his left shoulder and squeezed the lever.
“Unit 7. ETA ?”
“Be there in 5.”
Jimmy looked around the Main st. Last call was in effect and all of the bars were emptying out, including O’Malley’s. Between Mike clearing the crowd outside and Jimmy shaking the place inside out everyone had left . He marveled at how the patrons had cautiously steered way clear of him as they exited the bar. They’re not supposed to be scared of me, they’re supposed to trust and feel comfortable around me.
That’s the way it was these days and Jimmy hated it. He had always, despite the road blocks in his career, tried to be the cop that people waved to when he drove by. A police officer that was a resource to the community and not something to be feared. Andy Griffith always came to mind when he was on this topic. Maybe it was only a TV show but he wished that the people in town felt towards him and his fellow officers as the people of Mayberry did. They trusted Andy, they gladly sat next to him at the coffee shop and welcomed him into their homes as a friend. But that was not to be, forever relegated to the status of TV Land reruns, police were regarded on a whole different level in recent years. It wasn’t entirely unearned, Jimmy knew some bad cops. But he also knew some good ones, Mike and himself included, that took this job upon themselves for the right reason. Community, helping people, keeping them safe. Yet people, even in this town…HIS town, bought into the narrative that cops were racist and corrupt and not to be trusted. Maybe banging my nightstick on the bar a while ago wasn’t the best way to reverse that dumbass, he scolded himself. Maybe, but the damage has been done. He exhaled and reveled in the cool early morning air.
Mike pulled in moments later and Jimmy jumped in. Before Jimmy could fasten his belt Mike noisily sped off.
“What’s going on?” Jimmy asked him.
“We’re going to Mercy. That wasn’t a routine drunk chick. I ordered a Tox. Med 2 is on the way with her and I want to be there when they get the results”. He stuck a Marlboro Red in his lips, lit up and slowly exhaled. “Something stinks in Mayberry.”

Routine speed trap

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.

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 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.
“Yes.”
“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…

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?”
“Yes.”
“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.

Flashbacks

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?”
“Absolutely.”
“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…

Reminders

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.

Sergeant Michael Valentine was stuck in traffic. He was supposed to meet his partner at 11. He didn’t have to punch in, he just hated to be late. Now, road construction, his tax dollars at work, was holding him up. He was getting antsy when it occurred to him that he was a cop, why didn’t he throw on the reds? Then he realized that the reds won’t help him through the oncoming traffic, it was one lane. He punched the steering wheel. Take a deep breath, he scolded himself.

He called his partner and told him he would be late and to meet at the coffee shop. It was a short walk for him and Mike could pick up both him and a decent cup of coffee. That being handled he focused again on the traffic, his Agita, and his anxiety. Cheryl loved to fuck with me when this happened. This was one of those moments that reminded him of his ex. When he had one of his “moments” of anxiety, impatience or intolerance it would always end up in a fight. Despite the conventional wisdom of leaving him alone and letting him work through it Cheryl always picked and prodded at him and made an otherwise small thing into a blowout. One that regrettable things were said, things you don’t forget. It’s bad enough that I’m wrapped tighter than an airport sandwich, do I have to think of her every time I get worked up? The traffic started to move. He could feel the tension in his chest ease a bit. He lit another cigarette and waved to the flagman as he drove by.

“Hop in” he said as he flung the passenger side door open. In came 2 paper cups of hot coffee immediately followed by his partner James “Jimmy” McInerney. Mike put the coffees in the cup holders and opened the tab on his.
“Extra cream extra sugar?” , he asked.
“It’s your friggin’ heart attack”, Jimmy replied.
“Spare me the commentary, dickhead. Jus’ asking. Coffee is all I have until I can have a drink.” He took a sip. Jimmy laughed.
“You don’t need either. The shape you’re in, you could donate your body to Science Fiction.”
“You’re right. And Fuck you”, Mike said as he tossed his spent cigarette out the cracked window.
They drove in silence, the hum of the tires as they drove down Main St. provided the filler for their silence. They focused on police work, scanning the crowded sidewalks for signs of trouble.

This was their routine every night, to cruise the main street containing the college bars looking for trouble makers. The establishments generally let out just as their shift started and if there was going to be a fight or some sort of mischief this was the time. Jimmy pointed across Mike’s chest.
“There.” He was pointing to a circle of young people. They were gathered around something hidden from their sight. Mike swung the Crown Vic into the opposite side of the street, threw on the lights and blew the siren. Several onlookers turned in response.
“Everything ok over here?” He called out through his open window.
“Yes, officer. Just a drunk girl.” As the circle opened up they saw a very intoxicated young woman sitting on the ground with a befuddled look on her face. Nobody was really helping her, they were treating her as a curiosity. She was clearly disoriented and in need of help.
“You go in and talk to the bartender. That young lady has clearly been overserved. Tell him I’ll shut them the fuck down if they’re not careful. I’ll take her home and swing back for you” Mike said.
“K”, Jimmy replied in his usual perfunctory manner and jumped out of the car.
Mike stepped out and the crowd scattered. A physically imposing guy of 6’2 and a reasonably muscular 250 pounds with a strong chin and a buzzcut, Sergeant Valentine didn’t need a badge and a gun to clear a crowd. He leaned in, spoke briefly to the young woman and helped her to her feet. As he helped her into the back seat of the car he turned to the crowd.
“Maybe next time someone can help out instead of standing around. What the hell is wrong with all of you?” he scolded the crowd. Not one of the bystanders dared to be indignant enough to defend themselves.
He leaned in to get the address of the young woman. Once done, he strapped her in and drove off in search of her dorm or housing. He considered, for a brief moment arresting her for Public Intoxication but he had a soft spot for the kids, especially the girls. They were, after all the same age as his daughter.