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Buy my new novel now, The Angels of Valley Junction Ebook available everywhere
A day off in law enforcement is a treasured commodity. Every day not on the job is a mental health day and is just as necessary as having ammo in your Glock. It’s a day where you don’t have to be on constant alert and Jim Beam is your trusted partner. On these days your partner whispers in your ear softly and sweetly, “You just relax now. That’s an order.” And you do as you’ve always done, you obey orders.
The day after, a day off, is another story. Your shift starts refreshed and your mind clear, with hopes of an uneventful day. Or, in my case, night. Uneventful is one of my favorite words and one I don’t get to use often enough on the job.
One summer afternoon, after a day off with my trusted partner, I began my shift refreshed and hopeful. A short twenty minutes later it was just another day at the office as the radio squawked. A possible heroin overdose at an address I knew well. This house was always full of addicts, crackheads and junkies, (yes there is a difference but that will be covered in another chapter), and this call seemed almost routine.
I pulled into the drive and ran to the door with my first-aid kit. The junkies met me and directed me to the bathroom. The site before me was a shocker and nothing shocked me. A very, very large, obese woman lay on the floor in a pool of toilet water, urine and feces. A needle was still stuck in her arm and the toilet she was sitting on had broken and tipped over when she collapsed. Water sprayed from the broken toilet into the air presenting a little rainbow in the mist. I usually smile when I see a rainbow, but not today.
She had no pulse and wasn’t breathing. I knelt beside her in this disgusting swamp of human sewage and did what I was trained to do. I inserted the plastic mouthpiece into her mouth and through the other end I blew air into her lifeless lungs. I followed with five seconds of chest compressions and then repeated the breaths. This went on for five minutes and just as I heard the ambulance pull up, she coughed violently, threw-up into the plastic tube and up into my mouth.
I coughed it back out, which happen to go back into her face. She started breathing and coughing and I stood up and made way for the paramedics to take over. They shared the same look of disgusting shock that I displayed a few minutes earlier. And the tiny, toilet rainbow brought no joy to them either.
I was covered in the grotesque mixture from head to toe.
As I began filling out the report from the laptop in my squad-car, they wheeled her out. She was talking and attentive as they had to call two of the junkies over to help lift the gurney into the ambulance. She was the fattest heroin addict I’ve ever seen.
When I finished the interviews and report, I knew I had to go back to the station to clean up and change uniforms. As I drove, my mind tried to grasp what just happened. This lady had just got a second chance at life. I waded through, human crap, piss and vomit to help give her that chance.
Will she take advantage of it, I wondered? Or will I be back here next week and play the game again like usual. I thought the latter because it is by far the norm. I know I sound jaded but show me a cop who isn’t jaded, and I’ll show you a rookie.
As I left the department in my fresh uniform, I felt a bit confident that the rest of my night would be quiet. My first call was such a wild ride that surely the odds must be in my favor for an evening of peace and quiet. What was I thinking?
Squawk! My radio summoned me again with my second call of the night. Kitten up a tree maybe? A car out of gas at an intersection, I hoped? Perhaps a deer was struck on the highway by a car and needs to be…dispatched? Venison anyone? No such luck. An apparent suicide needed my immediate attention. Lights and sirens!
I knew the neighborhood, as I know all the neighborhoods on the north-side. But the address I didn’t know. I, and many cops, have a photographic memory when it comes to addresses. That is to say; if you make a call and there is trouble of any sort going on, this address burns itself permanently into my grey matter. I can recall addresses from over a decade past. If I remember your address, that’s not a good sign for you.
I pulled up to two-story house to see the neighbor out front, frantically waving me to the front door. He had called 911 when he heard a strange ‘thud’ while he was working his garden on the other side of the house. As I ran toward him I looked up to the second story window. “Oh shit” I exclaimed!
There was a limp body hanging from a rope a few feet below the window. The other end of the rope led inside the house through the window. “The parents aren’t home and that’s their 13-year-old son up there.” The neighbor explained.
The door was locked so after I kicked it a couple times it finally gave way. We both ran up the stairs to the boy’s room. As I climbed the steps I called for backup and to start an ambulance. He had tied the rope to the frame of his bed and the bed had slid across the room and was now in front of the window. We both knelt on the mattress and tried pulling the boy up.
The angle proved to fight against our efforts, and it took much longer than I thought it would to get him up and inside.
We finally got him in and I started to cut the crudely made noose from his neck with my pocketknife. His face was blue and he wasn’t breathing, but it didn’t appear his neck was broken. Once the rope was free I began CPR, chest compressions and moth to mouth. After a minute I checked and there was still no pulse or breathing.
After several minutes I got a faint pulse and shallow breathing. I continued until paramedics arrived. His color had come back, and he breathed a little deeper. ‘At least he’s got a chance’, I thought for the second time that night.
While the paramedics worked on him and prepped him for the ride, I looked around his room. It was a typical teenager’s room with sports posters on the walls and video games stacked high. Empty pop bottles and candy wrappers on his desk by his computer. What on this earth would compel a thirteen-year-old boy to take his own life?
The parents arrived shortly thereafter and explained to me that he was being bullied at school. It had been going on for some time and the humiliation just got to be too much for the boy.
I wanted to find these little bastards and teach them a lesson. Show them how it feels to be bullied. Really, really bullied! My thoughts were irrational of course, but what’s it going to take to end this kind of deadly nonsense? A person really has to be tortured, physically and mentally, to get to this point.
By the time I wrapped this call my shift was over. Only two calls the entire shift. Both similar but also completely different. Two lives peeking over the edge into the dark abyss. A pair of souls hanging by a desperate thread and that thread unravelling.
One soul had a long rap sheet of criminal behavior. Arrested for buying and selling a variety of drugs and making one bad decision after another. Would society be better off without her? I suppose that’s not a fair statement to make. Who knows when she might wakeup and turn her life around?
And the other soul also made a bad decision. ONE bad decision. Given enough mental torture and at such a young and impressionable age, anyone might do the same. Can he be held responsible for that decision?
Weighing this scenario in my mind kept me up all that night as these things often do. All cops go through the same with these type cases.
Even my trusted partner couldn’t help me sleep that night. The idea of why and what’s fair or not fair always haunts you. We have been told and I know its true for a fact…life is not fair.
When I reported the next day for my shift my sergeant told me the boy had passed away early in the morning hours. The lady was being discharged from the hospital. Yeah, I’m jaded.