Tuesday, March 2, 2010

Cop Out

This afternoon I was down at the police station, sitting in a cruiser. Above my head, in a ceiling rack, was an automatic rifle. It looked just like the one I carry while playing a certain game on the Xbox. The laptop I was working on took some time to reboot, so I spent my time checking out the buttons, switches, and equipment used to fight crime. The chief was on his phone, just a few feet away, so it was impossible to ignore the words that came; suicide, rifle, mess, nothing left, these words made their way into the air around him with the same ease that words like hard drive, update, software, and network make their way into the air around me. I felt a sudden sweat position itself in a fine layer over my skin, and a pain stabbed at my stomach. I willed the laptop on, begging it to find hidden speed in its aging processor so I could verify the updates to the database that kept the mean streets of New Hampshire safe and get away from that phone call. Instead, more words; scholarship, full-ride, honors, alcohol, drugs, pressure, parents, denial...they all gathered in my ears and pried their way into my head, forming a hot ball inside my skull. It was hard to breath softly and my eyes blurred, the tears making their daily appearance at an inopportune moment the way they always do. I wiped them away on my sleeve, and forced myself into the distractions of work. I carried on.

After a few more agonizing minutes, the chief hung up with a sigh. He told me he had to run and asked me to lock up the station as I left. Within a minute I was alone, staring through the windshield at the fire trucks, ambulance, and vending machine in the quiet garage full of shadows that I hadn't noticed before. Bad words from the chief's one-sided phone call bounced around inside of me. The tears came on again, and I let them run their course this time, my work on the database finished. I sat back in the driver's seat and put my hands over my head, resting them on the weapon above. It felt nothing like the gun that I carry while playing a certain game on the Xbox; it felt cold, hard, and lethal.

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