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Off the Clock

April 10, 2009

The cold brings all of my old injuries to life. A symphony of pain that maps out my career in law enforcement. Every major event that has shaped me.

Rage allows me to push it all aside. Compartmentalize it as background noise. The kids blood still stains my shirt. That is the only badge I’m carrying tonight. Innocent blood and the rage of a man who swore to serve and protect and every day watches the city die a little more.

The apartment building stinks. Honestly, that’s probably the least of the problems facing the few tenants that scurry about the dark halls. It’s certainly the least of Ricky’s problems.

I find the apartment . I want to kick the door in. I want to send a hail of bullets screaming for vengeance tearing through the air. I reign everything in and simply knock.

The footsteps inside are hesitant. Wary. The door opens, a flimsy chain the only thing between me and the child killer. I flash my teeth at him.

“Hello, Ricky,” I say. “I’d like to talk with you for a minute.”

“Who the hell are you, man?” he says. He has a gun. Probably the same one he used earlier. He’s almost flaunting it.

“Does that matter?” I ask.

He points the can at me, held at a ridiculous angle. “I think you better back the hell off,” he says.

I shrug once and turn, taking one step to the side. He starts easing the door closed and I throw myself into it. The chain doesn’t even slow me down, the impact only really echoing into my should when the door connects with Ricky. The gun goes off onceĀ  before bouncing off across the floor.

Before he even has a chance to react, I’m on him. A hand clenched around his throat. I squeeze and he squirms, clawing at my hand.

“You killed two people today, Ricky. One of them was only seven years old.” I drive the point home by smashing him against the wall every few words. Then I drop him. Giving him a moment to wheeze for breath.

“You. You’re fuckin’ crazy,” he says, eyes moving to his fallen gun.

I slam a fist into the side of his head and send him sprawling, followed with a solid kick to the stomach. Then I pull him back to his feat, holding him there.

“You’re done, Ricky. You made your last mistake,” I say and throw him into his own table, sending drug workings flying everywhere. The rage ebbs slightly. I hit him twice more when he tries to stand, sending him back to the ground.

He coughs and whimpers, bravado vanishing as quick as it came. I toss a phone at him. “Enough people have died today. Call the cops. Tell them what you did. Tell them to take you in. Because otherwise you’re leaving through the window,” I say.

He reaches for the gun.

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