Yesterday’s post, provoked by Scalzi, also sparked a quick correspondence between myself and a friend. This friend indicated they didn’t think they could keep it positive enough to warrant doing it. I understood that, as several events I have witnessed sought to worm their way forward in yesterday’s list. I didn’t let them, not for that list, at any rate. It did get me thinking, though.
Some that have spoken with me in person might recall I a saying I have about Ocular Herpes. I don’t mean, of course, to refer to a strain of real herpes that affects the eyes. No, what I refer to is the things one sees once and will never be rid of. Things that, when I close my eyes, return unbidden.
I am not trying to gross people out, or make them feel for me with this list. Indeed, most of what I have seen was much harder on the viewed than the viewer. All of them are a part of me now, and will remain so until memory fails. Most are not positive, or funny, but some sparked the gallows humor that is a survival mechanism for emergency workers, cops, and soldiers.
Baptiste, a character from my book, The Last Captain has a thought, ‘Work Starfall, age in dog years.’ That is a direct translation of my reality into my fiction; I have been heard to say, “Work the Mission, age in dog years.”
Anyway, on with the list:
1) Responding to a call of an excessively loud party behind an apartment building. We are making our way through the top floor apartment when the officer in front of me walks through a beaded curtain and turns off his flashlight (the power was off in the apartment). He then starts to dance, chanting, “La cucaracha, la cucaracha,” a pound and shuffle to his footwork like the best of a flamenco dancer. His partner clears the curtain, gasps, and laughs, shutting his light down as well. I entered, the carpet of the kitchen was alive. Cockroaches, millions of them, covered the floor, and hardly moved under the flashlight.
2) A pretty girl, breathing her last, the right half of her skull behind the forehead pressed upward from the bullet meant for her girlfriend’s boyfriend, who had been flipping gang signs at the corner from the backseat of her car.
Blood has a distinct thickness, an aerated look when it passes through the skull and hair. The flashing lights of the emergency vehicles didn’t help.
3) The entire front bumper of a minivan, perfectly balanced in the middle, hanging from a low, impossibly thin branch of a tree. The block looked like a bomb had gone off when the suspect, trying to escape police, hit the minivan (containing a newborn and his parents). The family was alright. The suspect too.
4) Smoke dribbling from the mouth and opened skull of a young moron who had been playing Russian roulette a few minutes prior. His blood and pulped brains literally dripped from the vaulted ceiling of the room.
5) A man who looked like Ichabod Crane, all fleshless limbs, running from me. He catches his foot on the chain meant to stop cars from entering the parking lot and flies through the air, arms windmilling, appearing to fall in slow motion.
“Oh, Shhiiiiiiiiitt!” he groaned as he fell to land on his chest and belly, knocking the remaining wind from him. I laughed so hard I had a hard time cuffing him.
6) A fat man trying to get home after being shot, dying on his neighbor’s front stoop, asking everyone piteously why his mother wouldn’t open the door when he knocked. He expired before his mother could be summoned.
7) An attractive young woman who’d run off the bus into traffic to catch the next one, her leg bent in too many places so that her ankle was next to her head, asking me, “Why can’t I get up, officer?”
8) The end of a plastic bindle of dope poking from the anus of a very large Samoan. Him, naked, daring me to come get it. That fight was less than epic.
9) A twelve year old prostitute running to her pimp to escape us. Him trying to get away. Later finding the methamphetamine he was using to enslave her.
10) An elder suffering from dementia, her hair and pillow filthy, her indoor toilet unemptied, asking what she was to do, now we had removed her friends from the apartment. Her ‘friends’ were Sureños, part of MS13, and had been doing drugs, eating her food, and practicing her signature in order to steal her identity. She was so confused that she did not recall being shot by the same gang ten years prior for being a witness against the gang and its depredations.