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I sat down hard in the chair and reached up to pull the radio mic off my shoulder, dropping it on the desk in front of me. I logged into the network and while Windows loaded I reached below the buttons of my shirt and pulled the hidden zipper down and slipped the uniform shirt off, draping it around the back of my chair. I was finally able to pull the Velcro straps off my armor off with a sharp rip and the instant relief was countered by the corpse-like smell it had concealed. There has never been any comparable sensation in going from the hot tightly-wrapped confines of Kevlar to the release of pressure and sensation of cool air on once hidden skin—better than the shock of cold beer on a sweltering day or a blast of heat from your cars dashboard vents on a cold day.
I punched in my login information from memory and began to review police reports, but managed only to stare at a screen full of information while reading nothing.
Jesus, was that smell me? I rolled back semi-reclined and glanced to see blood still on my boots, but it didn’t have time to have “gone over,” and there certainly weren’t any brains on them; I had been careful.
I rolled forward again and took a moment to cup my face in my hands, elbows firmly spread on the desk, sweat raked outward to the outside of my palms. The pressure it relived was almost as nice as peeling off the vest, and my back involuntarily relaxed as I gave in to the relief. Minutes passed before I looked at the screen through split fingers.
An anonymous tipster had reported the presence of a suspicious person with no description on Stanfiel Street and documentation showed that no one had located the unknown person in question as reported by the non-existent caller. On Derby Street, “Malcolm” had been approached by a man who offered to rent him a car for $10. Malcolm thought this quite the bargain and took him up on his offer, stretching his value for three-and-one-half hours before leaving it as directed on a nearby street corner. Malcolm was shocked to find the vehicle had actually been stolen from its owner, who apparently not been the same man who had rented it to him for what was now, in retrospect, an offer too good to be true. He lamented his luck and was transported to jail, a victim of circumstance.
My hand found my face again while reading, covering my eyes. I thought back to the red shag carpet a half-hour earlier that framed a deformed but shiny copper slug like a diamond laying in a field of smoothed scarlet soil. For the first time I could completely understand a crow’s fascination with shiny objects because I had locked onto it, transfixed during my search of the house, pistol barrel dipping in absentia despite my training. The metal was distinguished by a thin thread of blood dried along its one smooth side; it was so beautiful, so … elemental, the copper and blood, pure and uncomplicated. Blood coagulated in thick pools nearby looking like a light and dark crimson swirled marble on the surface, a trick of oxygen leaving some parts more quickly others, still trying to seal off a wound in the veins and arteries in which it no longer flowed.
Even when broken up, the individual parts tried to do their jobs until they ran out of fuel. Such engineering, the human body. I still marveled at it after all these years and after so many opportunities to see the different ways it could be torn asunder by means of vehicles, blunt weapons, projectiles and blades. Simply amazing. And such a waste to see it blown all over the rented contents of an apartment, as in this particular case.
Gangsta Rap came over the PC speakers from a random play selection and snapped me out of my brief trance, so I got back to work. I was out of coffee and tired, and my only company being a row of mismatched file cabinets was not helping. I had a long drive ahead and I just wanted to be asleep … and maybe to see that bullet one more time. Would they throw it away after the trial?
Maybe I’d swing by Stanfiel Street on the way home, in case the as-yet described person was still in the area near the anonymous callers’ house … I’d talk to them and be firm yet polite. I would Help them. Then I would sleep.
It was still dark outside, after all.
Alex Teach is a police officer of nearly 20 years experience. The opinions expressed are his own. Follow him on Facebook at facebook.com/alex.teach.