morning coffee

A vision of loveliness in a t-shirt and panties, in her bare feet she dances across the kitchen to a song only she can hear. At the sink, she fixes her coffee as she stares out the window, her morning ritual, marveling at the birds as they frantically dart in and around the feeder. The dog brushes up against her and she stoops down to pat him, her affection emanates from her as she talks to him. She knows he doesn’t understand but he hangs on the nuance of her every kind word.
She sees him come in, and as she stands she tosses her hair back from her face, smiles at him and returns her gaze to the window.
He approaches her and wraps his arms around her waist. She leans back, trusting that he won’t let her fall. He buries his face in her neck, savoring the smell of her hair.
“You’re beautiful”, he whispers.
“Stop it, I’m a mess”, she whispers.
“You’re the most beautiful thing I’ve ever seen.”
She closes her eyes and savors the moment.

He fixes a coffee and settles in. The newspaper on the table before him fails to catch his interest. His gaze remains on her as she putters about her morning routine. After all the years he is fascinated by her. She walks weightlessly. Her smile illuminates the room. She lights up at the smallest of things.
How does her heart even fit in that tiny body?
“You’re staring at me. Stop it.”
“You’re not even looking, how do you know that?”
“I can feel it, silly.”
He returned his attention to his paper. He pretended to read it but his mind was elsewhere. He knew his face was betraying him. How do I tell her?
As if reading his mind, she leans in and kisses him on the head.
“What are you thinking about?” she asked him in the sweetest of tones.
“Oh, nothing.” Now is not the time, he told himself.
She sat down at the table across from him and sipped her coffee. She looked up and caught his gaze.
“You’re staring again.”
“Sorry.”
She got up and left the room. He returned his focus to the newspaper. Moments later he looked up and saw her in the doorway, a single tear slowly made its way down her face. He realized that she had gone into the den. And that he had failed to close the browser.
“When were you going to tell me that it’s back?”
His stomach sank. When I can wrap my head around another man loving you, he thought.
He doubted he could ever do that, certainly not in the six weeks that he had left.
He motioned for her to come to him. Instead, she cupped her face in her hands, turned and left the room.



uncomfortable silences

this is part of an ongoing series called Graveyard Shift. It can be read alone or I would welcome you to start from the beginning, which you can scroll down to in my archives. Enjoy

“You can’t smoke in here, Mike”, Jimmy said. He watched as his partner of 5 years ignored him. Mike was staring ahead, studying the smoke of his cigarette wafting listlessly into the air. A woman nursing a coffee alternately stared at her cup and glared at Mike. Mike casually opened his jacket enough to reveal his badge. The woman returned her gaze to her coffee. “Bully”.
“Fucking Smoke Nazi.” Mike offered.
“Yea, those studies on the harms of second hand smoke, the no smoking signs on the walls, common courtesy. Goebbels is behind all of it.” Jimmy chided. He knew that egging Mike on right now may go either way but he was just trying to get Mike to talk. He wanted to hear what was going on behind that furrowed brow. And he hated uncomfortable silences.
Mike dropped his cigarette into his coffee and lit another. He could feel the heat of the glare of the woman next to him as she grabbed her pocketbook and stormed angrily out of the cafeteria.
“You know, I don’t think she is the one who drugged your girl. Why are you fucking with strangers?”
“I’m not fucking with strangers, I can fuck with you if you want?”
“Just talk to me, Mike.”
Mike continued to stare straight ahead. Jimmy knew not to push anymore. The girl reminded Mike of Sarah. Mike suddenly spoke.
“If she was raped…so help me God.”
Yup, Jimmy thought. That’s it.

Too close to home

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.

“You can’t smoke in here, Mike”, Jimmy said. He watched as his partner of 5 years ignored him. Mike was staring ahead, studying the smoke of his cigarette wafting listlessly into the air. A woman nursing a coffee alternately stared at her cup and glared at Mike. Mike casually opened his jacket enough to reveal his badge. The woman returned her gaze to her coffee. “Bully”.
“Fucking Smoke Nazi.” Mike offered.
“Yea, those studies on the harms of second hand smoke, the no smoking signs on the walls, common courtesy. Goebbels is behind all of it.” Jimmy smirked. He knew that egging Mike on right now may go either way but he was just trying to get Mike to talk. He wanted to hear what was going on behind that furrowed brow. And he hated uncomfortable silences.
Mike dropped his cigarette into his coffee and lit another. He could feel the heat of the glare of the woman next to him as she grabbed her pocketbook and stormed angrily out of the cafeteria.
“You know, I don’t think she is the one who drugged your girl. Why are you fucking with strangers?”
“I’m not fucking with strangers, I can fuck with you if you want?”
“Just talk to me, Mike.”
Mike continued to stare straight ahead. Jimmy knew not to push anymore. The girl reminded Mike of Sarah. Mike suddenly spoke.
“If she was raped…so help me God.”
Yup, Jimmy thought. That’s it.

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…