Part IV: 2011

Part IV: 2011

A Chapter by Scorpious Alpha

Samson
That was f*****g nerve racking, I’m so glad it’s over. I was cleared for duty and they deemed what happened a good shoot, as I was protecting my platoon from a psychopath. I even got promoted, who knew? My crew was happy to see me again when I finally returned.   “Allo, thank you for saving us.” Francois said.
“I just reacted, don’t-don’t thank me.” I said glumly.
“If you hadn’t taken out that psychopath, who knows how many more of us he would have taken out?” Chuck said.
“Seriously, don’t mention it.”
“You’ve been gone for months, we weren’t sure we’d see you again.”
“Just drop it!”
“Ok, ok, fine.” I go to the command tent.
“Sergeant Major Samson Alpha reporting for duty.”
“Hey.” Tiff says.
“What’s wrong?”
“Hm? Nothing, I knew you were coming, so hi.”
“Any instructions?”
“I’ll brief you later, enjoy bossing the guys around.”
“Any chance we could get together later? Celebrate?”
“Yeah, sure.”
“Really?”
“Don’t push your luck.”
“How was the funeral?”
“There was some debate as to whether or not Leo should be buried with honor.”
“Was he?”
“No. They determined that because he was the cause of this f**k up, it was his fault three people died.”
“Yeah, sorry about your friend I guess.”
“No, I knew it was coming sooner or later. Knew I’d have to be the one to take him out if necessary.”
“How could you possibly have known that?”
“I’ve known him our whole lives, I knew he had the potential. I was either in denial or just didn’t think he’d actually go through with it.”
“How did he even make it this far?
“That’s beyond me, I’m just as puzzled as you are. Although, he was a good liar, maybe he faked it somehow.”
“That’s the only thing that would make sense.”
“Alright, I’m gonna go, let me know when you’re ready to brief or heh, debrief me.”
“Go.” I leave the tent and join the guys.
“Attention!” They all snapped up and saluted instantly. It felt good. “At ease.” They relax. I pull a deck of new cards I had gotten while off base. “Now, just cause I’m your superior officer doesn’t mean you should go easy on me. We’re here for a good time, not a long time, am I right?”  
“You’d really call this a good time? All sand, all heat, no poon, oh and dodging f*****g bullets and bombs!” Seth yells.
“Don’t yell at me, Schiffino, I’ll make you drop right f*****g now.”
“Wow, twenty minutes back and already the power’s gone to your head you f*****g douchebag.”
“Don’t call me a douchebag, you f*****g nerd.”
“So me being smarter than you makes me a nerd?”
“F****n’ duh! You’re a computer geek!”
“So? What does that matter?”
“You’re a nerd, nerds are weak, I don’t even know how you even became a marine!”
“Not every nerd is a wimp, a*****e!”
“Shut the f**k up and drop and give me a hundred!”
“F**k you!” He punches me in the face. I couldn’t believe it, this m**********r actually punched me in the face. Ok, now I’m really pissed off. I take off my jacket and toss it to the nearest person. “I kicked a lot of nerds asses in my lifetime, you’re just one more.” And the fight began. I punched him in the gut and he fell over. He immediately got back up and charged into me, knocking me over. He started wailing on me, punching my face, my ribs, my stomach. He was on top of me, so I tried punching him in the head, but I got more misses than hits. I was able to knee him in the solar plexus and he doubled over. I couldn’t get up at first, it was hard to breathe. That’s when Tiff showed up.
“What the f**k is going on out here?” She yells. “What’s the matter Alpha? Can’t keep control out here?” She asks.
“I- can’t- move.” I gasped. Seth had caught his breath and was getting up.
“Don’t move, Schiffino.”
“Yes sir.” He says.
“Alpha, can you get up?”
“No.”
“Can you at least sit up?”
“No.”
“Get Dr. Kuklis.” She sighs. Chuck runs into the medical tent and comes back out with Lisa following him with a stretcher. They get me on, and carry me to the tent. “Schiffino, you too, you look a little busted up yourself.” We all went in at the same time basically. Lisa checked me out.
“No broken bones, you’re lucky. Ribs, abdomen, and chest are all bruised. Can you breathe yet?” Lisa asks.
“Little bit.” I answer.
“What happened?” Tiff asks.
“He was being an a*****e!” Seth says, his voice slightly raised.
“Watch your tone or you’ll be scrubbing the shitters.”
“You started it.” I said.
“No. You have a f*****g god complex or something, man. This a*****e has us stand at attention the second he walks out of your tent and then jokes about how we’re here not for a long time but for a good time. What, he saves us, becomes our CO and all of a sudden we’re supposed to suck his dick?”
“Yes, that is exactly what you’re supposed to do. What did he ask you to do that made you snap?” Tiff asks.
“I told him if he didn’t stop yelling at me, I’d make him drop.” I said.
“Nice to see you’re feeling better. Seems reasonable, why didn’t you shut up?”
“Because he-” Seth begins.
“He what?”
“I’m sorry Sergeant Major Alpha.”
“No, I want to hear this, he what?”
“I was gonna say he’s not the boss of me, but I guess I temporarily forgot that rank is taken very seriously and the fact that he is now my superior officer got to me. Again, Sergeant Major, I apologize.”
“Who threw the first punch?”
“I did.”
“Thank you for being honest. Four weeks of latrine duty followed by four weeks of four a.m patrols. Dropping sounds so much easier now, doesn’t it?”  
“F**k.”
“You’re dismissed, Schiffino.”
“Yes sir.” He leaves the tent.
“Looks like you’re out of commission.”
“No, really, I’m ah- s**t.” I try to say.
“I don’t know if I want you anymore, you got your a*s kicked by a nerd.”
“How was I supposed to know?”
“That a nerd could be that strong?”
“Yeah.”
“He’s a marine, probably our smartest one in the unit. Which I’m starting to question considering he started a fight with a superior officer.”
“I don’t know, I guess cause we’re more friendly as squad mates and the change in rank must’ve made him feel inferior because he has to take orders from a dumbass like me.”
“You still got your a*s kicked though.”
“Why can’t you let that go?”
“Because you are the superior officer for a reason, it’s a sign of f*****g weakness to get your a*s kicked by a subordinate. If this was any other military, you’d probably end up demoted, killed, or both.” She says sternly. “Don’t disgrace the rank, get some f*****g balls, especially if you want this ever again.” She whispers, gesturing herself at me.
“What am I supposed to do?”
“Be the a*****e Seth says you are. I know you can do it, it’s part of your personality. Just turn it up a notch.”
“Uh, I could lose control if that happens, I don’t want my guys to hate me or-”
“They’re not ’your guys’ you’re not here to be liked, you’re here to give orders, to protect civilians and kill terrorists. Those guys
out there? When one of them breaks, we get a new one. How many have we replaced? It’s called a unit for a reason. The body can’t go in the right direction if the head doesn’t know what it is.”
“I'm the head?”
“Yeah, you can be the head. Lisa’s the brains and I’m the eyes and ears. Look, you’re missing the point. These guys out there? They’re you’re comrades, not your friends. You wanna be friends? Fine, after you’re all home in America. You can’t get attatched to them, grief twists the mind, and a sharp mind is what’s needed for this job. You can’t let emotions cloud you. If you died tomorrow, I’d give you an honorable funeral depending on how you die, but that’s about as far as I’m going when it comes to caring. This thing we have? It’s all mechanical. Oh believe me, you were great, but I think I’m gonna call it.”
“Why?”
“You’re worried about being liked by your men, which implies that you care something for me as well, and I can’t have that. Looking down, all I see is an emotional, physically weak man. Don’t you f*****g cry.” I couldn’t help it, I thought we had something special since I was the only one... or was I?
“Was I the only one?”
“Only what?”
“Guy.”
“I suppose it doesn’t matter anymore now, does it? No, get over yourself. You’re nothing special, just an egotistical a*****e. There’s plenty of you guys to choose from, you were just one more in a long line of many. How’s it feel, being on the other side?”
“I- my mind’s blown.”
“Good, you think on it while you recover. Now here’s what’s going to happen. Being that it’s only your first day of command, I’ve decided not to discipline you. However, one more incident involving controlling your subordinates and I’m writing you up for failure to command, is that understood?”
“Yes sir.”
“Feel better, Sarge.” She leaves. Lisa walks up to me.
“Wow, I didn’t expect her to call it off, I always thought you guys were gonna get caught.”
“Good thing medical stuff’s private.”
“For the most part.”
“...yeah...”
“Alright, I’m going to recommend one to two days bed rest with observation, and let you go once I deem you fit to go back out in which case I want you on desk duty for the rest of the week and back to your regular duties next week. In the case of an active shooting or bombing, we will transport you as quickly and as safely as possible.”
“But I don’t care if I still hurt, I want to fight.”
“Not if it happened today or tomorrow. Besides, as a higher-ranking officer, you’re more valuable, but still expendable. It’s like they’re a bunch of one dollar bills and you’re a five dollar bill.”
“That sounds awful.”
“Welcome to life, everything is awful, just look where we are.”
“Yeah, you’re right. Medicate me.” She gives me a few pain pills. “Shots?”
“No, that’s enough, trust me.” She was right, next thing I know, it’s the next day.
“What happened? What time is it?”
“It’s one o’clock Thursday afternoon.”
“I slept eighteen hours?”
“You told me to medicate you, so I medicated you. Your body needed to be unconcious to heal itself, you know. How do you feel?”
“Hell of alot better, but I still hurt a little bit.”
“Where?”
“Stomach and ribs. Chest, not so much.”
“Part of your ribs is in your chest.”
“Alright, above the n*****s dosen’t hurt as much as the ribs under my n*****s, happy?”
“Oh, you mean here?” she presses on my lower ribs.
“Ouch, yeah, there!”
“No need to be crass, just show me.”
“Sorry. Here, here, and here hurts. Not so much up here.” I gesture.
“On a scale of one to ten?”
“Seven, seven, three.”
“Alright, here. These should dull the pain for awhile. Let me know when you need another dose.”
“Now can I have a couple of shots?”
“Don’t need em.
“Why?”
“First off, you can’t mix those with alcohol. Second of all, those will knock you in enough of a loop.”
“Alright, fine.” She was right, I was knocked on my a*s. Didn’t fall asleep, just kinda lied there and daydreamed, it was wonderful, especially since I couldn’t feel a thing. I thought about what Tiff said too, and I swear, I’m going to get my s**t together. I’m going to make them all my b*****s, starting with Seth, he needs to be made an example of. Tiffany’s punishment isn’t enough. While I’m on desk duty, I’m going to have him cater to my every whim. He did this to me, now he’s going to pay. And when I feel better, I’ll show everybody who the real b***h is after I make an example of him. That night, Lisa cleared me. The next day, I step out of the medical tent, get cleaned up, and
report to my post. I’m not sure if Seth knew what I was doing, I think he did, cause by the end of the week I could see the resentment in his eyes, and it was great. “Don’t worry, this is the last thing I’m gonna ask you to do for me, Schiffino. I go back to my regular duties tomorrow.”
“Just remember I’m the one who put you there.”
“Oh, don’t you worry, I will never forget this.” I say as I smile at him. He turns and walks away.
“Making him your b***h while incapacitated, nice touch. He did it so he has to pay for it, I get it.” Tiffany tells me as she walks up to me.
“Oh, wait until he finds out what I have planned for tomorrow. You better be here.”
“What do you have planned?”
“I don’t want to spoil the surprise.”
“Oh? Now I’m intrigued.”
“I think you’ll love it.”
“We’ll see.” The next day, I let the day progress as usual. Everyone I want around is present. Taking him completely off guard, I gave Seth a kick in the legs and knock him on his back. I place my boot on chest and apply pressure.
“If I could have your attention!” I shout. Immediately, everyone stops what they’re doing and stands at attention. “There seems to be
some confusion around here. Seems that certain people around here have thought it was ok to be disrespectful, talk down to me, act like I was just another one of you. While it’s true, I was once like you, I am no longer like you. I am a superior officer and I demand the respect it commands, do I make myself clear?”
“Yes, Sergeant Major!” They all say at once.
“If you have offended me or any other superior officer with disobedience, I expect reprimand to be immediate, is that clear?”
“Yes, Sergeant Major!”
“I am not your friend, I am not your buddy. I am your commanding officer. We can socialize, but remember our purpose, to stop these terrorist cells. I expect each and every one of you to follow every order I give you, do I make myself clear?”
“Yes, Sergeant Major!”
“Dismissed.” I take my foot off of Seth and extend my hand to help him up. He refuses and gets himself up. “Shame, we could have been friends, but you just ruined it for everyone.” He just looks at me, turns around and walks away, dusting himself off. Tiffany approaches me.
“Impressive.” She says. “You’re still not getting this though, especially now that I know.”
“Know what?”
“That you’d catch feelings.”
“Well, that’s only cause I thought I was the only one. You want mechanical, I can do mechanical, I just didn’t know I had to be mechanical. I just figured since we had to be secret about it that it was special.”
“It wasn’t special. You don’t hide things you’re proud of.” Ouch. She’s right though. “I think you got your point across, maybe I underestimated you.”
“You did.”
“I hope so, I have too much s**t I have to deal with already.”
“Don't worry, I’ve got this under control.”
“Alright, get out there, if you need me, you know where to find me. Oh, and there’s a briefing at 1800 hours.”
“Alright.” I go and check on my guys and everyone got so tense as I came by, it was great. I haven’t commanded this much respect since high school, everyone hated me there too. A week goes by and one day me and the guys were playing cards. “Alright, Chuck. I got a Jack, a Queen, and two Kings.”
    “F**k you, all I got is twos.” Chuck says. I thought I heard the radio, sounded like Tiff was talking back to it.
    “Uh huh, yeah ok.” I hear her say. She leaves the command tent and approaches us. “Hey guys, pack up, we’re relocating.”
    “F**k, and I was winning.” I said, disappointed.  So, we get to packing, and then I see an RPG and I get this brilliant idea in my
head. “Hey, how much do you guys wanna bet I can hit one of those sand n*****s’ houses from here?”
    “Dude, you’re f*****g insane.” Chuck says.
    “F*****g do it.” Says Eddie.
    “Now that’s what I’m talking about.” I say. So I fire it, and hit my target.
    “What the f**k, you imbecile?” Chuck says.
    “What’s your problem?”
    “They’re going to retaliate.”
    “We’ll be long gone by the time they figure out where it came from.”
    “We live in the twenty first century, we’ve got space age technology and lasers and s**t. Everyone knows every time somebody takes a s**t, you don’t think they’re going to find us? Not to mention the smoke trail!”
    “We’ll be fine.”
“If Lt. Cougle finds out, you’ll be dismissed for sure.”
“Look, we’re in the middle of relocating, by the time they figure it out, we’ll be way way out there.”
“If we all die, it’s going to be all your fault, you son of a b***h.”
“Alright, I’m going to let that go, but it’s your free pass. We will not speak of this again. Eddie, you’re in as deep as I am, you encouraged it. If I go down, I’m taking you with me.” We reach the new base and set up. I started thinking about what I did, and Charlie might be right. I may have royally fucked up. Why did I do that? No, it’s fine, they don’t know it was me or where we are, we’ll be fine, right? A couple of days passed without incident, so I started to relax. “See?” I said to Chuck. “We’re fine.”
“You got lucky, you could have fucked us all.”
“I know, I’m sorry, I dunno why I did it, just- thanks for not telling anyone.”
“I f*****g hate you, dude.”
“Excuse me?”
“I f*****g hate you, SIR.”
“That’s better, now drop and give me fifty.” He drops and begins to do pushups. “Eddie, got anything to add?” He just shakes his head no. “Good.” I walk to the command tent when Chuck finishes. “Your turn.”
“Already? Damn. I’m expecting a transmission from Captain Middleton, come get me if you hear from him.” Tiffany says.
“Gotcha.” She leaves and I take over the radio. This is so boring but at least I’m not in the sun. Few more days passed, and I felt better with each passing day. I was great for about a week and one
night I left my tent to take a piss. I’m a little gun shy, so I find a nice place to go by some rocks and let it flow. I hear a faint whistling that gets louder until the tent I was just in explodes Chuck, Eddie, and Tiffany were in that tent. A couple more shells went whistling in the air, but everyone had mobilized already. I joined the fight. My guys were mowing these b******s down, and I took down a bunch myself. Bullets were flying, people were dying, and I was blinded by rage and guilt. It was all my fault these guys were here and now I’m paying for it. The least I could do is fix the mess I made. As I’m running, I feel a searing hot pain in my left foot. I fell down on one knee holding my foot. I didn’t even see the grenade, I felt it hit my right leg, but I didn’t know what hit me. Next thing I know, I feel my leg explode and I get propelled forward. I started to lose consciousness, but before I did, I found my leg and crawled toward it and reached it before I passed out. Apparently I was in a medically induced coma for two weeks, I woke up in an actual hospital. “What- What happened?” I ask.
“You were wounded in battle.” The doctor tells me.
“Obviously. How?”
“Well, you were shot in one foot, and lost the other leg.”
“I only have one leg?”
“No, you should feel something in that leg. Are you telling me you don’t?”
“Oh, I do, but you said I lost it.”
“Yeah, well, it got blown off.”
“How?”
“Grenade.”
“F**k. Can I still walk?”
“With rehabilitation, yes.”
“So you were able to reattach my leg?”
“Well, yeah, most of it.”
“Most of it?”
“You’re missing from your lower thigh to your upper shin. You’ve got a false knee in there, also. As a result of all of-” He gestures at my knee,”-this, your leg will be permanently slightly shorter than the other.”
“So I’m gonna be a freak?”
“No, you’re an injured vet.”
“But I’m deformed now.”
“Could be worse, you could be that guy.” He points to the bed across from me where there’s somebody with no arms and legs, badly burned and hooked up to a machine. “We have veterans who come to see the injured soldiers, both as a way for them to pay respects to your service to this country and to help talk you through what to expect now that you’re back home. Once you are released from the hospital,
you will return every day for rehabilitation, then every week. You’ll have to use a wheelchair in the meantime.”
“No!”
“Yes, deal with it, just be glad you’re home.”
“Do you know any of the details of the attack?”
“No, but Captain Middleton will be in shortly to debrief you.” He walks out, and the Captain enters. I salute him as he enters.
“At ease.”
“Yes sir.”
“Good work out there, ten confirmed kills, and you only lost six people. Too bad about your CO, though, she didn’t have that command very long.”
“Yeah, I know. So what happened?”
“You were there, don’t you remember?”
“I only remember up to the part before I passed out, I was going for my leg but I didn’t think I reached it.”
“You didn’t, but luckily the attack didn’t last very much longer after that. Thank god for tanks and drones.”
“So how did I end up here?”
“Well, as I understand it, what had happened was that you ended up falling near a comrade who picked you and your leg up and dragged you to safety before continuing to fight.”
“Who was it?”
“Gunnery Sergeant Schiffino.”
“What happened to him?”
“He died from his wounds.”
“Oh, s**t.”
“Now, I know there’s guilt knowing someone sacrificed their life for yours, but that’s their job, as it’s your job to do the same. As a unit, you work as a team. Instead of two dead bodies, we have less.”
“So, what now?”
“Now you get to go home, you’re done. You can’t do your job like this, you’re a cripple now.”
“Oh.”
“Look on the bright side: America. Thank you for all your service, soldier. Formal debriefing will be in three days.” He leaves the room. An old man stumbles in.
“Well, lookie here.” He says. “This one’s still awake. How are you doing, soldier?” He says to me.
“I’ve been better.”
“Haha, I know that feeling.”
“I blew up and now I’m going to be a freak.”
“A freak?”
“Yeah, I’ve got one leg shorter than the other and my right knee is plastic.”
“That’s all? S**t, and here I thought you had your legs where your arms should be and vice versa. Look at me, am I a freak?”
“No, sir. You don’t appear to be.”
“Look at how I walk, is this not freaky to you?”
“No.”
“Well it should, I have no legs! Did you not hear the clicking when I walked in? Landmine took my legs, and I ain’t seen them since, and you’re crying over a missing chunk?”
“Ok, I get it, it could’ve been worse.”
“Now all that’s left is to look to the future, and it won’t be easy, lemme tell ya...” That was hands down one of the coolest old guys I‘ve ever met, his name is Greg.
Luxor
Ah, the Fourth of July. One of the few days I am proud to be American. 235 years ago, our forefathers fought for this piece of land I’m standing on right now. It is exhilarating to feel the patriotism in the air. This year I am spending it with my brother who had just returned from Iraq a little while ago. He still needs the wheelchair, but he is getting up to do things on his own a little more every day. I am proud he is my brother and I am proud to be an American, now that
I know the true value of freedom. Stanley joined me as well as Samson’s friend from the Veteran’s hospital, Greg.
“Are you sure you are going to be ok?” I ask Samson, my older brother.
“I think so, if not, knock me out or something.” Samson says.
“I do not have the physical strength to do so.” I tell him.
“I gotchu.” Greg tells him. The fireworks commence and both veterans remain calm. “This is the first year I haven’t been triggered.”
“You get triggered when fireworks go off?” I ask, rather informally.
“Sometimes, depends on the state of my health that day.”  
“Well, I’m heading to bed, I’m beat. Later, Greg.” Samson says as he gets up from the lawn chair and hobbles with his cane towards the house.
“Hey, thanks for having me, officer.” Greg says.
“No problem, soldier.” I saluted him and he saluted back.
“See you in the mornin’” Stanley tells me. His cell phone rings as he’s heading out the door. “Aw, crap. Luxor?”
“Yes, Stanley?” I inquire.
“Two bodies at 350 west 54th street.”
“How intoxicated are you?”
“A little more buzzed than I probably should be.”
“Then we have a problem then because I still lack the ability to drive.”
“I can drive you guys, I’m actually not too bad, probably because I ate like a fatass.” Samson interjects.
“Fine, but you have to stay in the car.” I tell him.
“Aw, why? Look, I know it's your job, but I know better than to compromise a crime scene, I just wanna check it out. I’m completely desensitized after everything I saw.”
“You are a civilian driving two intoxicated detectives to a crime scene, I am already bending the rules as it is.” I say as we take the conversation from the backyard, through the house, out the front and into Samson’s sports car, where it is continued en route.
“I promise not to touch anything, if anything, I might help given your guys’ uh, current state. You may miss something.”
“While I have every confidence in my ability to do my job despite the slight intoxication, I cannot afford to take the chance. However, Stanley is the primary so it is actually his decision.”
“You wanna help? Go for it.” Stanley says.
“Look at that, it is your lucky day.”
“Yeah, I guess, whatever, I'm excited.” Samson says. We get to the address just as an ambulance pulls up. There is a body on the front porch and the front door is open. We put on our rubber gloves
and check out the first body. White male, 20’s, possibly 30’s, face down, single gunshot wound to the back of the head. I notice nothing else, so we continue on into the house, where, in the distance, I can see the backyard and a second body. On the way, I notice a couple more bullet holes in the wall. I continue towards the backyard to the second body. I approach it and it mirrors the first victim in terms of age, race, gender, position of body, except this one got it in the forehead. Now to figure out who did the shooting...we search the house but find nobody else. “So I guess this is the part where you guys start knocking on doors, huh?”
“No, it is much too late for that, we will wait until morning. However, I must speak with the individual who contacted authorities.” I approach a black woman leaning against a car. “Excuse me, ma’am, but did you call this in?”
“Well it’s about time you guys talked to me, I've been waiting since you got here, I want to go to bed already so let's get on wit it.”
“Alright, what did you hear?”
“Oh, I didn't hear nothing, I saw the dead dude from my backyard, ran out front and saw the other dead dude.”  
“Nobody else saw a dead guy on the porch?”
“It was dark, they prolly thought he looked passed out.”
“I cannot argue, it seems feasible. Now, you said you did not hear the gun shots, correct?”
“Yeah, I don't understand how I didn't hear a gunshot right next door like that.”
“Oh, you are the immediate neighbor?”
“On the right.”
“And on the left?”
“Dave hasn't been home all week, he’s on vacation.”
“So you are the only neighbor who can help us find who killed your neighbors?”
“Yeah, I guess so.”
“Then I need all of the information you can give me.”
“And I will, later. But, it’s already going on midnight, and I'm tired.”
“I agree, I am not in the best condition myself.”
“My name is Shauna Ortiz, come by in the afternoon, I should be up.”
“Ok, I shall see you later.” We leave the scene and Samson drops off Stanley and I at my house, and Stanley, in better shape than he was earlier, drove home. Come afternoon, we pay Shauna a visit. She lets us in the house and we take a seat. “What time did you first discover the body?”
“Well, fireworks ended around eleven last night, it was a little after that.”
“Ok, so not long before we were contacted then. Good, I like a smooth transition.”
“Did you find Mike’s body too?”
“Mike?” I check my notes, the deceased are Thomas Glass and Daniel Berry.
“Mike is the renter of that house, the other guys were only visiting. Wait, you think Mike did it?”
“It is the only plausible explanation unless there is a fourth party involved?”
“No, it was only the three of them. The other two guys knocked on my door on accident.”
“What can you tell us about Mike?” Stanley asks.
“Quiet, real nice guy, he shoveled me out when he cleared himself of snow over the winter. I could trust him with my mail when I go on vacation, and he took good care of Barkolomew that week.”
“Has he ever proven to be a little...off?”
“No, not really, just a normal guy.”
“That ‘normal guy’ killed two people last night.”
“I don’t believe it, I’ve lived next door to Mike for eight years.”
“Two people are dead, that’s a fact. Mike, the only person left from that crime scene is missing, that’s also a fact. Mike is missing
and is therefore assumed to be alive, and while it’s not yet solid fact, it’s the strongest lead we have.”
“Well, honestly I don’t know enough about him to have any idea where he could've gone.”
“When was the last time you saw him?”
“I actually saw him last in his backyard as the fireworks were going off. He and his friends were so hammered, so loud, I remember I went back in the house and watched out my doors from my kitchen over there.” She gestured towards the big glass doors leading to the backyard. We approached the doors.
“May I?” I ask.
“Sure, go ahead.” I open the door, and step into the backyard and look in the direction of Mike’s house and there is no fence, rather a natural boundary, so I could see his yard. I walk back to Shauna’s house.
“How did you know to come outside?”
“After the fireworks ended, it was silent next door which was odd cause they were loud basically up to that minute. I went out to look, used the flashlight on my phone, and saw the body. Then I came back in so I could go out the front to knock on his door to check on him.”
“You didn’t just use the backyard?” Stanley asks.
“No, I got feelings of trespassing.”
“Huh that's rare.”
“What is?”  
“That level of politeness.”
“Just didn't seem right, especially if it turned out I was wrong, then I would've been on his property uninvited for no reason. Didn't wanna chance it.”
“You are a rare breed, Ms. Ortiz. So, you approached the front door...”
“Yeah, and I saw the blood before I saw the body, I only had to stand on my porch to see it.”
“Did you look for Mike at all?”
“No, I thought he was one of the bodies. It was dark and I didn’t see faces, only bodies.”
“Okay, thank you for your time and information.”
“Is that all you needed from me?”
“Yeah, I think so. We’ll keep in touch.” We head back to the squad car. “I think she did it and there is no Mike, Luxor.”
“I would be inclined to believe that except the renter is indeed a Michael Hudgess, I have already alerted headquarters to keep an eye out for him.”
“How did I miss that?”
“Shoddy police work?”
“Oh, fuckk you, buddy!”
“I apologize, I realize now that you are elderly and as such has failing faculties and that your mind is no longer as sharp as it once was.”
“Keep digging the hole there, a*****e.”
“What are you referring to?”
“You don't know what you're doing, do you?”
“Elaborate.”
“Watch what yeh say, not everyone's gonna have the patience to deal with your smartass comments.”
“My comm-? Did I offend you?”
“Yeah.”
“I do apologize, that was not my intent. I was merely making an observation based on certain actions and behaviors.”
“I get it, I’m old. I belong in a nursing home. Put out to pasture to die. Should happen pretty quickly, the depression immediately after moving in. Then I eventually stop caring on a subconscious level as I lose the will to live. My body will most likely deteriorate due to being depressed in bed all the time, starving, in my own filth until one day I wake up dead, alone, and forgotten.”
“My goodness, what brought that on?”
“This job is the reason I wake up in the morning, it’s all I have left. Wife's dead, kids never liked me cause I was a hard assed, cold b*****d. I took discipline to extremes my father would've been proud of. I have nobody left except my job and my partner. They’re making me retire some time within the next couple years. My pension won't be enough, I’ll end up in a what should be illegal old person halfway house where the halfway is death. I could get a part time job to help pay my bills, but doesn't that defeat the purpose of retirement? Kudos to those who wanna work after retirement but that ain't me.”
“I apologize for making you feel inadequate. Come on, let us catch this criminal.”    
“Whatever, man, you owe me lunch you superior prick.”
“Is calling me a prick still an insult if you are, in the same breath, acknowledging that I am superior to you?”
“Do you know how hard it is for me to insult you? How do I get mad at and insult someone smarter than me without looking f*****g stupid? You have an answer for everything, and even though what you're saying may be true or well meaning, you come off as a snobby, rich genius. I hate you for it.”
“Am I to understand that you loathe me?”
“I hate that you were born privileged, hate that you're a genius, and I hate how you flaunt both. However, I do respect you because you do not only one, but two important jobs and you do them both well. I
know things won't fall apart if I left. So no, I don't hate you, I just put up with you.”
“I suppose that is all I can ask for.”
“HQ, this is Jones, any sign of Hudgess?” he speaks over the radio.
“Not as of now, we’re still looking.” we hear back.
“Thirty four years.” He sighs heavily. “Thirty four years I've been a cop. Spent time bouncing around until I decided to stay with homicide for the past twenty four. You sure this is the career ya want, kid?”
“Actually, I plan on making it one of many.” I tell him.
“Good for you, kid. Don't get tied down unless you wanna be and it's what you really want so you don't end up miserable like me.”
“You dislike your career? You do not like doing this every day?”
“Kid, I’ve seen a lot of gruesome s**t doing this job. Bodies torn to pieces, decapitations, bodies burned beyond recognition, dead kids, babies. I wouldn't recommend it for life, a few years is more than enough.”
“I will keep it in mind.”
“Attention! Murder suspect seen on the top floor of the Vanilla High Rise apartment building.” we hear over the radio.
“Let's roll.” Stanley says. We drive to the building where Michael is at the top of the fire escape. Is there a negotiator here or en route?” He asks the reporting officer.
“No.” he tells Stanley. Stanley walks over to our trunk and opens it. He opens a box and takes a cell phone out.
“Alpha, you ever do one of these outside of training?” he asks me.
“I had just barely passed my negotiations training, my lack of empathy makes it difficult for me to sell it to them.”
“Would you look at that? Alpha is an Omega Negotiator.” He asks me for my cellphone number and types it into the burner and calls me. He hangs up, hands the other officer the burner and sends him in the building. Meanwhile, Michael is sitting at the top of the fire escape, clearly deep in thought. “This is gonna be all you.”
“This is someone's life you are talking about.”
“It's in your job description, you were trained, you were passed. These are facts and you can't pick and choose the parts of the job you like and hope I do the rest. Because someone's life is on the line, I'll answer any questions you may have. Go, the officer just made the drop.” I take my phone and dial the last call, and Michael answers.
“Hello?” He says.
“Hello, my name is Detective Luxor Alpha. Can you tell me why you are here today?” I say as I recall my training.
“I'm a piece of s**t, I’m going to kill myself. I'm just too chicken s**t to get the balls to do it.”
“You do not have to kill yourself, it is not your only option.”
“It's the best option.”
“You are not being rational about this.”
“No, it's what I deserve! I f*****g hate myself!” He takes a gun he had concealed and puts it against his temple.
“Wait! Talk to me, why do you feel like you deserve death? Seems a tad bit extreme, do you not think so?”
“I think it's the perfect punishment. I killed my best friends over a stupid and drunk argument.”
“What was the argument about?”
“Me and Tom were having an argument over who would win in a fight, a tiger or a bear.”
“Ok so what happened next?”
“Dan jumps in, backing up Tom, I start screaming furiously, I was so angry, I couldn't control myself. I freaked out and shot Dan in the head, Tom started running so I chased after him and shot him.”
“That is what I deduced happened as well.”  
“I realized what had happened as soon as it did. I realized I just killed my best friends. I came here to say goodbye to my family before I killed myself.”
“You do not have to kill yourself, why not come down here?”
“Why? The only other option is jail.”
“It is better than being dead.”
“Is it? I get fucked by some dude named Courtney instead of burning Hell where I belong, I’ll end up suffering twice.”
“Look, you need to come down so we take you into custody.”
“No.”
“Then I am coming up to get you.” I start walking towards the fire escape ladder.
“No, stay back, I’ll do it.”
“That would be inadvisable” I say as I begin climbing.
“It’s what I deserve.”
“I repeat, you do not have to-” as I reached the top, he had shot himself in the head. I had failed, I had never failed before. I stared at the body for what seemed like hours. Jones joins me on the rooftop.
“You alright, Alpha?” he asks me.
“I-I failed, he is dead.”
“You can’t get ‘em all.”
“But I must, I cannot, should not fail. I had assumed he was bluffing, surely nobody would kill themselves on a rooftop in full view of everyone, but he did. Human will is a variable I have yet to accurately calculate.”
“Sorry partner, but people are unpredictable, that's why we have these procedures and policies. The point of negotiating was so this could end peacefully. He said not to approach him, yet you did anyway. That's Negotiations 101, I thought you were smarter than that, kid.”
“I miscalculated his bluff, I thought I knew all the moves he would make. I was sure I would have an arrest by the end of the day. Instead, my suspect is dead.”
“Look, it happens, why are you so bent out of shape over this?”
“I already told you, I have never failed before.”
“Not once? Ever?”
“No.”
“Well, you might have better luck next time.”
“Next time? I did not want to do it this time!”
“Think I successfully talked my way through every negotiation? I’ve screwed up my share of cases, we're human, it happens.”
“Not to me.”
“It was bound to happen someday.”
“Not to me it does not.”
“You're human, just like the rest of us.”
“Wrong, I am an advanced human, I should be better than the average human.”
“See? This is the kind of bullshit I’m talking about. Just cause you're smarter doesn't make you better.”
“Yes it does! I’m better than you!” I shout angrily.
“If you were truly better, you wouldn't have failed today. Oh, and you wouldn't have used a contraction, I think you meant to say ‘I am’.”
“Go fornicate yourself.”
“What was that? Someone's a little testy.”
“I am going to take a week.”
“For what?”
“I need to figure out this anomaly.”
“Are you really this hung up over this?”
“Yes, now if you have nothing of value to add, I am going to go home.”
“No, you're finishing the day and the week.”
“What if I am insufficient in my abilities to do my job?”
“Don't start this self pity bullshit. You’re good at what you do, don't question yourself over one little f**k up.”
“Someone died because of my failure!”
“It f*****g happens, get over it!”
“I cannot!”
“You're gonna hafta if you wanna keep your job.”
“Excuse me?”
“You need to be in the right mindset to do this job, and you can't do that if you're obsessing over this.”  
“What do you want me to do?” He sighs.
“Guess you’re getting that time off you wanted. See a shrink, figure this s**t out, you have till Monday.”
“Why so soon?”
“Because I need you.”
“I am not sure I can recover from this that quickly.”
“Maybe I was wrong about you, Alpha. Maybe you’re not cut out for this job.”
“I can do this job, I-I just did not anticipate failure as a variable.”
“Always plan for failure.”
“Excuse me?”
“If you anticipate it, you’ll be better prepared for it.”
“So by having a contingency plan, I am prepared for any eventuality.”
“In a sense, you can't predict everything.”
“No, no, this is good, this is a learning experience.” I start calculating... “Ok, so the probability of irrationality increases in times of extreme stress, especially if they feel they truly deserve it, which decreases the likelihood of a bluff...”
“Sounds like you got it all figured out.”
“For this situation, yes.”
“Feel better?”
“Somewhat.”
“Still need that time off?”
“I will just take today.”
“Alright, go home, I’ll see ya tomorrow.” I leave the crime scene, and head home. I call my brother and ask him to come over.
“What's up, bro?” Samson asks.
“What was it like the first time you failed?”
“What do you mean?”
“Look at you, you are crippled as a result of your actions.”
“I was injured in the line of duty, I didn't fail.”
“Yes you did, you told me what had unofficially happened, not on record.”
“Ok fine, I fucked up. I felt like s**t, you happy now? This is what you called me for? To rub it in, mister perfect?”
“No, I-I uh, failed today.”
“You what?”
“Yeah, someone died on my watch.”
“This is crazy, I knew I’d screw up some time, but you? You’re too smart to f**k up.”
“I am not too versed in human empathy, the scenario I expected was not the reality. Human will is another variable I did not account for.”
“Ahh, got b***h slapped by the reality of life.”
“More or less.”
“Well, I guess the best advice I can give is get over it, it happens.”
“That is what Jones had said also.”
“It's the only thing you can do.”
“I have not been this embarrassed since Physical Education class.”
“Ya live, ya learn, you become better.”
“You are absolutely right.”
“I know failing isn't something you're used to, but believe me, it’s not the end of the world.”
“Thank you, I do feel a slight ease of burden. I shall work on my technique and improve my skills. Jones had a point, I cannot count on
him for everything, and as he pointed out, he will not be around forever.”
“So what are you going to do?”
“Figure out a way to get rid of all weaknesses.”
“How are you suddenly going to gain empathy?”
“I have wondered that, and I think I have a solution.”
“And what's that?”
“I will learn how to act. If I can fake it, I can fool them into believing me.
“Good luck with that.”


© 2019 Scorpious Alpha


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Added on October 19, 2019
Last Updated on October 19, 2019


Author

Scorpious Alpha
Scorpious Alpha

Somewherein, PA



About
I'm a drama writer (who doesn't love drama?) I'm currently working on a series, Imperfect Perfection, have another two series, Parasitic Psychosis, and Unbalanced Electrical Storm finished. Hope you l.. more..

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