“Out for a pleasure cruise?” the gruff-looking officer asked, leaning down to peer through the rusted 1978 t-bird’s glassless drivers-side window, hand resting with practiced ease on his service revolver. He saw the expired tags, holes that could be from gunshots, and the ridiculous clothing the driver wore, perhaps in fashion twenty years prior, and found himself rolling his eyes. Ten months from retirement and there he stood, training an overzealous army washout, at four in the morning, pulling over someone who was probably no worse than a petty drug dealer. All he wanted was to get in from the cold and down a stiff drink, not necessarily in that order.
“Just on my way home, officer,” came the almost jovial reply. His hands firmly on the wheel, white smile flashing, eyes hidden behind dark sunglasses, he cocked his head slightly. “Is something the matter?” Feigned ignorance didn’t phase the officer, nor did feigned courtesy; it just came with the job.
“We received a report of someone being thrown from a car matching this description; you wouldn’t know anything about that would you?” Though bored with the situation, after all the area was filled with run-down and rust-stained cars, he nevertheless took inventory of the situation: stains on the backseat, two small baggies with white powder, a broken syringe, and what looked to be a small-caliber shell casing. Raising an eyebrow he looked back to the driver.
A slight shrug coupled with a guilty grin, like a jackal having just run his prey to the ground, was the driver’s only immediate response. Lowering his glasses with a single finger, something seemed to flash within his eyes. Not only was this kid down on his luck, obvious from his chosen transportation, but he was on his way home; hardly reasons he should continue to be impeded in his travels. Shrugging, the officer patted the roof of the old car with his right hand, no longer resting on his sidearm. “You have a good-night son. Sorry for the trouble.”
“You old idiot, what are you doing?” a new voice, angry, chimed in. Pushing his way past the senior officer, the rookie’s firearm was already drawn. “You, get out of the car and on the ground now!” he bellowed, accentuating the command with a jabbing finger. Eager and power-hungry, the driver remarked; he likely believed power was an end in itself instead of a means to greater goals. He wouldn’t ever understand the work the driver performed, and would dismiss the teachings on principle. Most in America were similar to this one, he mused, without a sense of something beyond themselves. His momentary reverie was however disturbed by the young officer ripping open the car door as hard as his mortal muscles could. “I said get on the ground; what are you smiling about?” The driver chuckled and undid the safety belt without care or concern.
“Davis, stand your ass down!” came a barked order from the older officer, having recovered from his ward’s intrusion. “This guy is just driving home and we have no cause to stop him any further.” Then, to the still-grinning driver, “sir you can go, I’m sorry for the intrusion.” He moved to put a hand on Davis’ shoulder but found his armed knocked away, Davis staring at him incredulously.
“You’re smoking the same thing this guy is!” he bellowed. “We have the car seen speeding away from the dead junkie, this clown,” gesturing to the driver with his matte gun, “grinning like a loon, and now you’re just going to let him go? What the hell kind of department is this?”
“I said, lay off, Davis,” the elder of the two growled, hand returning to the butt of his gun, snapping off the thumb-safety. “We have no reason to hold this man; we shouldn’t have stopped him in the first place!” For the first time, the driver really looked at the first officer.
Years on the force had toughened him against the rigors of humanity, but moreso, had punctured many of the misconceptions he had as a rookie – that the police were good, honest people, trying to make a difference in the world. It couldn’t have been long before he discovered they were no better, and perhaps even worse, than any other industry in the area. Officers were bought and sold, “favored” criminals given long forewarning of impending raids, and property vanished from the evidence room with staggering regularity. Perhaps even he had been bribed at one point or another. As he watched the two continued to yell at each other; one toting experience (and the false feelings impressed upon him by the driver), the other logic. It was almost comical, their dance. They both desired greatly and, the driver smiling widely with discovery, were about to realize the other would hamper any ability to get what they wanted.
The smell of gunpowder, the flash of light, the unmistakable sound of a gunshot; none of it held the driver’s interest
like the officer’s face. As the seconds ticked by it was transformed from one of wanton passion and delight in the act to one of horror as the realization of his actions came to the fore. Staring at his revolver, then at the rookie’s body, he stood slackjawed, eyes unfocused. The driver let him revel in his pain before standing.
“Did you want to do that, Officer?” he asked, the smooth seduction in his voice matching the power he let flow through it. “What did you think of him?” His lips may have been smiling but his eyes were hard, watching for the reaction.
“I … I hated him,” he began, stuttering. “He was here for himself, not the people. He … he would have been just another bad cop. I wanted to … I wanted to kill him!” he cried, his eyes already brimming with tears. Dropping his pistol, he held his face in his hands, sobbing. The stranger merely nodded and walked closer.
“And how do you feel, having accomplished, overcome, a desire?” the driver whispered.
Shaking, the officer’s lips hardly moved as he answered. “Cold; empty.”
Smiling, the driver handed the broken man a business card; it had nothing but a phone number in it. “You have taken the first step, Officer. You will know when you are ready to take another.”
In the distance, sirens wailed.
Another old story I found buried in the archives,
this one from July of 2007. I hope you enjoyed it!