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.

Not in my town

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 29, 2005 2:00 AM

Officer McInerney impatiently directed traffic as he watched the Accident Reconstruction team doing their meticulous work. They will take a week or more to release their findings but Jimmy could save them a lot of time if he just told them the truth. His truth. I fucked up and let a drunk go and now he’s killed people. How do I reconcile this? His next move was unclear. His options were pretty simple, confess to his supervisors or keep it to himself and hope that he can push it way down and never think of it again. He immediately scratched the second one, there was no way that he could do that. He hurriedly waved a Semi Tractor Trailer around the scene. I’ve got to get out of here. I feel like I’m going to lose my shit.

Present Day

“Heroin mostly. A pretty good dose”, said Dr. Resnick. He, Sergeant Valentine and Officer McInerney were standing in the hallway outside Ruthann Reed’s room. Hospital staff scurried around them like water around a rock in the stream.
Mike Valentine scratched his chin. “Seem like a regular user?”
“The marks on her arm seem fresh. No scarring typically found on a regular.”
Mike’s fists clenched momentarily. Jimmy was studying him. Despite Mike’s notorious penchant for angry, spontaneous outbursts he was capable of staying on point when necessary. This was one of those times. Jimmy wasn’t about to mess it up by speaking right now. “What else?”, Mike asked.
“Ketamine”, the Doctor replied.
“The date rape drug?”
“That’s the one.” The doctor raised his clipboard and took a pen out of his breast pocket. “Can you tell me anything more about her behavior before she passed out?”
“Not really”, Mike said. When we found her she was sitting on the ground. Out of it.”
“The bartender and bouncers all say that she just came in, alone and starting dancing. Said she was falling down and hanging on guys,” Jimmy interjected. “They treated her as a drunk.”
The doctor scribbled on his chart. “That makes sense, given the combination.” He scribbled again on his clipboard.
“Rape kit?”, Mike asked.
“She’s just now lucid enough to do it without causing further distress. Why don’t you get a coffee and give us a little time. When she’s settled you can ask her some questions.”
“Thanks, Doc”, Mike said. He and Jimmy turned and headed for the elevator. As they walked Jimmy studied Mike’s face.
“One to ten. How pissed off are you right now?”
With a straight face and teeth clenched Mike slowly replied, “Modern technology can’t measure.”

Not in my town

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 29, 2005 2:00 AM

Officer McInerney impatiently directed traffic as he watched the Accident Reconstruction team doing their meticulous work. They will take a week or more to release their findings but Jimmy could save them a lot of time if he just told them the truth. His truth. I fucked up and let a drunk go and now he’s killed people. How do I reconcile this? His next move was unclear. His options were pretty simple, confess to his supervisors or keep it to himself and hope that he can push it way down and never think of it again. He immediately scratched the second one, there was no way that he could do that. He hurriedly waved a Semi Tractor Trailer around the scene. I’ve got to get out of here. I feel like I’m going to lose my shit.

Present Day

“Heroin mostly. A pretty good dose”, said Dr. Resnick. He, Sergeant Valentine and Officer McInerney were standing in the hallway outside Ruthann Reed’s room. Hospital staff scurried around them like water around a rock in the stream.
Mike Valentine scratched his chin. “Seem like a regular user?”
“The marks on her arm seem fresh. No scarring typically found on a regular.”
Mike’s fists clenched momentarily. Jimmy was studying him. Despite Mike’s notorious penchant for angry, spontaneous outbursts he was capable of staying on point when necessary. This was one of those times. Jimmy wasn’t about to mess it up by speaking right now. “What else?”, Mike asked.
“Ketamine”, the Doctor replied.
“The date rape drug?”
“That’s the one.” The doctor raised his clipboard and took a pen out of his breast pocket. “Can you tell me anything more about her behavior before she passed out?”
“Not really”, Mike said. When we found her she was sitting on the ground. Out of it.”
“The bartender and bouncers all say that she just came in, alone and starting dancing. Said she was falling down and hanging on guys,” Jimmy interjected. “They treated her as a drunk.”
The doctor scribbled on his chart. “That makes sense, given the combination.” He scribbled again on his clipboard.
“Rape kit?”, Mike asked.
“She’s just now lucid enough to do it without causing further distress. Why don’t you get a coffee and give us a little time. When she’s settled you can ask her some questions.”
“Thanks, Doc”, Mike said. He and Jimmy turned and headed for the elevator. As they walked Jimmy studied Mike’s face.
“One to ten. How pissed off are you right now?”
With a straight face and teeth clenched Mike slowly replied, “Modern technology can’t measure.”

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.