Friday, May 17, 2013
Ben Sherman -- Epilogue, Part 2
AFRICA, THREE YEARS LATER
It is already hot as the sun rises up over the valley in the middle of this ancient continent. This ancient continent where families and lives were once ripped apart by those who thought bartering in humans was a God-given right. This ancient continent full of a multiplicity of cultures. War-ravaged in some places, disease-ridden in others, but full of great beauty and majesty and life. Life wild and free, alongside life shackled and oppressed. Great poverty and great riches, sometimes in one place.
She lies next to me -- this woman, my woman -- breathing softly. Her skin soft and brown and warm. The dark curls of her hair gently brushing my shoulder. Her belly swollen with the child. Breasts full and ready to give milk to a new babe. Soon he will come. Or she. I don't know. The woman -- the lovely woman whom I love -- doesn't want to know, so the decision is made. We will be surprised. Isn't life just one long surprise, anyway? We plan, God laughs -- isn't that what they say?
Who knew, almost three years ago, that my life would come to this? Who knew that my life would come to anything? Fuck 'em all, I thought to myself back then. Sammy and Cooper, Brooke -- fuck 'em all.
They were rather awkward, those initial days after my confrontation with Sammy. I mean, we couldn't work together, anymore. Not one more day. Sammy pulled some strings, got us new partners. Not too many questions were asked. Hell, I thought. I'm taking the Detectives' Exam, anyway. I'll be out of this fuckin' squad car in a few months. And I should have been. I got the second highest score ever recorded in the department. But, the promotion got "held up." One fuckin' excuse after another. No one ever said it directly, but I know that fucker Sammy was responsible. It became clear to me that I was going to be riding in that patrol car forever -- or humpin' the pine. I had been blackballed -- by the guy who told me that "you always have your partner's back, especially when he's wrong." That fucker.
And then there was Cooper. Brought down by his own team, he lived through it all. But, after all that -- after his own psycho trip -- he still thought he was better than me. The guy pistol-whips his neighbor, disgraces himself after almost 25 years on the job, and he has the audacity to treat me with disdain when I go visit him. Maybe I stretched my authority a bit in going after a few bad guys, but they were the BAD GUYS. Not some Joe Lunch Bucket who couldn't pay his electric bill.
The one bright star amongst all this fucked-up crap? Elena. I really did love Elena. Not like I love the woman who lies next to me now, the woman large with my child. But, I did love her. She was the little bit of light in the middle of all my darkness -- as corny as that sounds. And Brooke knew it, too. I should have been more careful with Brooke. Should have taken her unstable behavior more seriously. I was a cop, after all. But, I wasn't willing to admit to myself what I knew deep down to be the full extent of her anger, of her hatred. Because if I admitted that to myself, I would have had to admit that maybe I was a little bit responsible for it. Yes, she was crazy. That wasn't my fault. But, in how I treated her -- in how I screwed around on her -- I probably did tip the scales a bit. Probably did uncage the beast that was inside of that tiny lady. And now one lives in an institution, unable to even feed herself. And one lives in prison. Elena didn't mean to cause that trauma to Brooke's brain. Brooke, after all, did start the fight. The fight that ended in a fall when Elena pushed Brooke away from her. And when a head meets concrete violently, the head doesn't stand much of a chance. I really didn't think Elena would face prison time. It seemed a simple matter of self-defense to me. Evidently, the D.A. saw things differently. He maintained that Elena used unnecessary force. And the D.A. prevailed.
So, that's how it was. That's where I was. Trapped in a life I had never anticipated. Looking for a way out. The usual escapes -- sex, alcohol -- they weren't doing it, anymore. And the other cops? They were polite, professional. But, they were no longer my comrades.
So, I made a decision. A decision that involved putting into practice one of the things I had learned from John Cooper -- skimming pills from perps I took into custody. (Of course, Cooper always denied that he did this. I never fuckin' believed him, though. No sane person would. The guy was a fuckin' addict. And addicts say whatever they need to say.) Nobody noticed a few pills missing here and there -- especially when I made sure I was the one to book the things into evidence. It only took a few months, and I had enough to do what I needed to do. Kill myself. You may wonder why I didn't just eat my gun. Basically, I was too polite for that. Didn't want anyone to have to clean up after me. And there were Olivia and Chloe to think about. And my mother. Chances were, it would have been one of them who found me. And I didn't want them to find a bloody mess. With the pills, it would have been far more peaceful -- for me and for all the rest of 'em. I go to sleep and they find me that way. A fuckin' Sleeping Beauty -- guy version. Except, no kiss could or would have magical powers in this rendition of that classic tale.
To be continued...