Fiction · 06/04/2014

Sissy Fish

The Job.

Wake up hung-over, either alone, living in a motel as a result of an impending divorce/trial separation (she kept the house), or next to a half naked woman you’ve met/picked up/had sex with in the previous six hours (most, if not all of which, you can’t remember). When the beeper goes off a second time, hurl it against the opposite wall; this follows for both scenarios. If alone, throw up in toilet/sink and stare at the reflection in the mirror. Don’t say anything; display a fed up grimace, the kind which exemplifies: I’m not angry, I’m just disappointed. Change into work attire. If alone, do a Shnort of vodka (a mini bottle) before heading to the unmarked patrol car. If the half naked woman is still asleep, suggest she can let herself out, there’s (possibly) pizza in the refrigerator. If half naked woman is awake, listen to her make incredibly insightful remarks about the spiraling out of control state of your life, while she covers herself with the newly purchased minimal thread count sheets, then brush it off by saying something like I didn’t know they were handing out Rhodes Scholarships with your tit job; then suggest there’s pizza in the fridge. In this scenario, remove the mini bottle of vodka from the glove compartment and shoot it on the way, or upon arriving at the crime scene.

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The Dead Body.

Walk into the cordoned off apartment and greet officer Jones/Baxter (Not Johnson, which would make him FBI, or Lynch which would make him CIA). Exchange pleasantries, accept coffee, then ask him who’s the lead detective. Curse under your breath when you find out it’s McDougal. Pinch the bridge of your nose and make reference to how McDougal couldn’t find Joe Frazier in a bowl of rice. Finish the coffee, walk the perimeter, then examine the scene. Remove the sheet. Feel the adrenalin course through the central nervous system. Notice the bruising pattern, the vacant look in the eyes, the lingering aura of dread still circling the now empty vessel. Do not notice the white knuckles of your hand trembling. Place the sheet back. Go over the mental checklist for later: interviewing witness accounts, going over DNA findings, and NCIC reports. Try to exclude wrath/vengeance on the list of things to do. Nod to Baxter/Jones. Leave the house and take a deep breath, which burns the lungs from the cold. Note the paradox: if you could quit the job, you would, but it’s also the only thing keeping you going. Try and fail to block from your mind the fact the victim is around the same age as your son/daughter.

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Old Habits Are Like Bruce Willis…

On the way home deviate from the route. Pick up a baseball mitt/dress for son/daughter as a paltry excuse for missing their dance recital/play. Walk to the front door of your former dwelling and ring the bell, feeling the anger begin to build as you fondle the key in your pocket. The door opens. Get chastised by soon to be/current ex-wife which begins with her saying you’ve got some nerve. Hold up the mitt/dress like a talisman, hoping it will melt her icy demeanor. She laughs and closes the door in your face, but block it from shutting with your foot. Say something witty/charming/insulting with usual rapier-like delivery. Cut to rolling around on living room floor with soon to be/current ex-wife who says keep it down, you can’t stay the night anymore, as your son/daughter is getting confused. Have angry/explosive/attempting to remain quiet sex. Try to kiss her goodbye at the doorway, but she dodges it. Settle for a half hearted embrace. Drink another vodka mini in the car.

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Through the looking glass

Visit with junkie/scumbag/informant. Slap him/her around a little, remind him/her about being able to bust him/her on a parole violation. Listen to him/her ask for some leniency/quarter before relenting. Allow him/her to fire up a pipe/smoke a joint/do a line to soothe nerves. Commiserate about what constitutes a difficult life for the appropriate amount of time. Ask each other about your respective kids. Listen to an insightful and surprisingly coherent rant about choices/regrets/soul searching, and quotations from Aristotle/Ghandi/Malcolm X/Timothy Leary. Receive information about a suspect in the case you’re working. Give the informant/junky/philosopher a ten/twenty and tell him/her to keep his/her finger on the pulse. Get into the car and pity him/her for being an addict, then search through the empties in the glove compartment for a shnort of vodka.

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The Watering Hole

Order a shot of Jameson’s with a beer chaser. Tell the bartender to stick it he knows where, when he says your tab is getting higher than current/former rock star with drug problem/recent overdose/rehab stint/death. Sit at the bar with Sgt. Jones/Baxter, clink shots together and drink them. Kill the beer and order another round. Listen to “Revelations” by Iron Maiden on the Jukebox which only has three working CD’s including: Journey’s Greatest Hits, Maiden, and Smooth Sounds of the Seventies volume 4. Scope the bar for a potential sexual partner. Order another beer, and feel the sensation of euphoria reach its apex. Scowl openly when McDougal comes in. Mock his voice and mannerisms to Baxter/Jones who suggests you’re saying everything louder than you think you are, so you might want to keep it down. Ignore him and begin disparaging McDougal, who finally recognizes and grants you an audience. Exchange barbs with him until a group tries, and fails, to separate the two of you. Go outside, shadow box for a few seconds, almost fall down from being inebriated, but manage to play it off. Miss with the first two punches, as McDougal says to go sleep it off. Get more angry at the fact he’s sober and condescending to you. Catch him with a leaping straight right. Watch as he transforms from playful/annoyed to murderous. Absorb three punches, and before going down, remember McDougal was a Gold Gloves boxer in his youth. Hear what sounds like Charlie Brown’s teacher lecture you on how you are a good cop, but disappoint everyone. Get helped to your feet by Baxter/Jones, who agrees to drive you home.

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Beyond the Wall of Sleep

Wake up hung-over on the front lawn, arms wrapped around a garden gnome named Pickle Bottom. Retch, but make it to the sink/toilet in the house after fumbling for the keys for what feels like an eternity. Fill the bowl with the remnants of last night. Stare at the face in the mirror: an eye resembling a ripe plum and is almost closed completely from swelling. Almost laugh when you realize the hieroglyphics above your right eyelid are from McDougal’s class ring; Class of ’91 in reverse. Remove ice from the freezer and apply it to the bruised area and wince from the pain. After twenty minutes, take a hot shower, then shut the blinds and get into bed to sleep off the hangover. Right before shutting your eyes, remember you were supposed to have breakfast with your son/daughter two hours earlier.

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Comeuppance

Wait outside of the bar/restaurant/stomping ground the suspect spends his time. Take a slow pull off the pint to ease the tension/anticipation/nerves/anger. Watch the suspect leave. Follow him at a distance, and park far enough away from his house so no one will remember your car/notice your presence/write down the license plate. Remove the throw away piece from the glove compartment, and chamber a round. Walk toward the door of the suspect’s apartment with blinders on. Check the mailboxes for the apartment number, and ride the elevator to the apartment. Wait outside the doorway and gather your thoughts. Ignore the smell of urine, the sound of television programs from neighboring apartments. Remember the frozen grimace on the victim. Remind yourself he/she was your son’s/daughter’s age. Press the doorbell. Keep your finger on the peephole. Hear footsteps approach. Do not feel your heartbeat elevate. Clench your fist around the butt of your weapon. Hear the suspect ask who it is. Respond with The Super. Hear the bolt unfasten. Kick the door in, and hit the suspect in the face with the butt of the throwaway. Hear his nose break. Feel temporary delight. Shut the door behind you. Point the throwaway at the suspect. Watch his confusion turn to fear. Click off the safety with your thumb. Remember the look on the victim’s face. Slowly squeeze the trigger. Anticipate the spray of bone, brain, and blood decorating his recliner; the smell of cordite, the sudden illumination of the muzzle flash, the kick of the gun; the satisfaction. Don’t pull the trigger. Lower the gun. Feel the tears streaming down your face. Have an epiphany regarding your son/daughter. Handcuff the suspect. Mirandize him. Experience a sensation that comes with doing the right thing, long thought dormant or dead.

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The Piper at the Gates of Dawn

Take a deep breath while standing outside the house. Anticipate the rage building, but find it’s replaced instead by longing. Fondle the key in the pocket and debate using it, but refrain. Become overwhelmed by the desire to set things right, make amends for past transgressions: become a better father, rectify problems with the marriage, and enforce the law to a T while on the job. Press the bell and wait, hearing the footsteps growing louder, until the soon to be/current ex opens the door. Implore her to listen before she begins berating you, and for some reason she does. Maybe there’s something in the tone of your voice, or the look on your face. Find her staring at your swollen eye with apparent concern; assure her you’re OK, and ask to come inside. You’re certain she’ll stop you, or at least hesitate, but she allows you into the house and guides you over to the couch. She says she’ll get your some coffee. Feel the warm sensation of guilt consume you. Begin to cry, fight against it, and succeed in keeping it muffled. Understand, for the first time clearly, your former life is what you desire more than anything else. Resign yourself to do whatever it takes to reconstruct the fractured pieces. Dedicate all the free time to being an integral part of your son/daughter’s life. Walk over to the bookshelves and grab a kleenex. Find the book of Greek Myths you’d purchased and read together with your son/daughter, and how he/she had trouble pronouncing Sisyphus’s name. Remember how you avoided mentioning the punishment Sisyphus endured, pushing a rock to the top of a mountain only to have to helplessly watch it roll back to the bottom; how the concept of eternity seemed incomprehensible even to you. Promise to forsake the bottle and look up substance abuse meetings in the area; exercise more, really do it this time. Put in for a transfer from Homicide, make amends with McDougal, recommend Baxter take the Lieutenants exam. Take a deep breath, and realize it no longer matters. What set you adrift from the desired course you’d hoped your life took, there’s still time to right the ship; to make up for lost time, to become a person of substance, to care about others more than you care about yourself. The feeling of satisfaction replaces the earlier guilt and melts away the shame, which up till now was threatening to consume you. Sit back into the sofa cushions, which reminds you of the hours spent watching children’s programming with your son/daughter, of the countless hours falling asleep together with your soon to be reconciled/ex wife; how you’d carry her up the stairs to the bedroom, and kiss her on the forehead before curling up against her body. Remember the warmth of her embrace. Smile at the thought, and let your eyes wander around the living room, settling on photographs of your children. Almost pass over the shiny object on the end table, underneath the lamp. Furrow your brow as you begin to make out more details, and get blind-sided by rage, when you finally comprehend why McDougal’s class ring is laying there.

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Falling Off the Edge of the World

Wake up hung-over, and alone, living in a motel as a result of a divorce. Wait for the beeper to go off, then remember you no longer have one. Take a hit off the pint of Gordon’s on the night-stand, soothing the frayed nerve endings which seem to be on fire. Lose track of which day it is. Take another hit from the pint and spill it on the end table. Use the recently opened court document as a coaster. Watch the dampness spread along the paper, blurring out your ex wife’s name, as well as the words: assigning, full, and custody. Finally, drag your body out of bed and walk toward the bathroom, resembling the diagram on the museum wall depicting the evolution of Cro-Magnon man. Flip the light switch and squint as the rods and cones trade places. Stare at yourself in the mirror with a look that suggests you’re not angry, just disappointed. Wish somehow it wasn’t all so predictable.

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Andrew Davie graduated from Adelphi University with an MFA in creative writing. He taught English in Macau on a Fulbright Grant, and currently teaches in Hong Kong. His work can be seen in Bartleby Snopes, A River and Sound Review, and The South Dakota Review