After so many years in the business everything becomes familiar. I can honestly say I’ve seen it all. Every new case behaved as an object, predictable and as quiescent as stone. A detective’s work is really as black and white as it is in the old movies, a series of unconscious in and outs. Over time I’ve come to think of criminals as a predictable species.
Stepping towards a crime scene carried to me the same air of approaching a zoo exhibit to look at chimpanzees. Like a conditioned breed of animal, looking at life beyond the cage, lusting after ambitions beyond their reach, unbeknownst to them. Over the years I thought I had mastered the psychology of crime, it became a game of solitaire I always won. They made the same mistakes, an overlooked strand of hair, a shoe print, tire marks. It was like they became so blinded by the rush that they forget to be careful. When you’d been around as long as I have, nothing came as a surprise.
They’ve always said that there’s always the one case that defines all your years of service. Fatefully mine came to me in the year I planned to retire. After years of my unconscious routine, I awoke to in strange house that has left me restless since.
I came across the glass table first, bits of white powder and spots of dark blood, typical. I continue moving through the room, taking notes of all worth noting, until I come across something that makes my heart skip a beat. My gaze met another’s eyes as transparent as the table. A drug tattered boy most likely no older than 21, with the dejected countenance of a 73 year old refugee.
“Jacob”, he responded without prompt. One thing I’ve learned is that eyes betray their owners so I looked to see if I could put his in inquisition first. He was sweating, although far from nervous and definitely not as a result of physical strain. He was biting deep grooves into his numb bottom lip, most likely just to see if he could still feel.
“Well Jacob…” I started.
He looked away and seemed to have taken flight as if to escape to a faraway place, a place where he was not to be reached.
And as I began speaking he interrupted with,”Here’s how the story goes. I have a well-to-do mother who’s probably tanning by our pool in West Palm. She sits and basks in the warmth of her artlessness, living off a high of a different kind. Every Wednesday she awaits her afternoon appointment with an Asian beautician she can’t stand. However, she’s promised youthful beauty for a little while longer. She sometimes complains that the cosmetic pain sucks, but she loves it, because mom will do anything in her provincial life just to feel.
Dad works, he knows no compromise. He’s all no regrets business dude and shit. He’s convinced himself by this point, that life has left him no choice. Taking pride in all that you do is a luxury you can’t afford if you want a life of luxury’, a maxim he’d often repeat. He’s an empty shell of a man, a machine.”
After a few moments of pause, he continues, “After work sometimes he and some work buddies will swing by the strip club. Their delusional justification is celebrating the strong business performance from the week. I’ve even been a couple times, you should see how they leap like frightened hares in the moments before they remove their wedding rings, as if a release from some invisible chains of ceremony. As they enter the club they exchange eager glances, all the while they are well aware that the strippers will barely touch them, but Dad will do anything just to feel”
He then shifted his body and met my stare. His expression was drenched with a cold bitterness that left me frozen in space and time. His next words were meant to conquer, bullets aimed to bore holes. He said solemnly, “You won’t find any remorse in these eyes, no, not when in my chemical delirium I feel it all for those brief moments… and you people spend your whole life numb. You’ll do anything just to feel, just to feel. “
It was too much, I felt overwhelmed with the ensuing silence, echoing through the house.
I had the boy arrested and taken to the precinct. I stood there for a while in the house though, in the shame of seeing myself naked for the first time. I stayed that way after everyone had gone.
I saw my life as a animal in an exhibit, so remote and out of touch. It’s funny how these things come around. I’d once thought I’d seen it all. I began looking back at a trail of abandoned feelings, jaded sentiments, on my path to happiness. When all I’m really in search of is just to feel. The way I lived harboured a virus of the soul, emotional nerve damage. I didn’t feel a damn thing.
I only managed to leave the house after arriving at this one ray of insight I hope to position for those of you still going on. Make sure you fill the void with substance, and relish your pains because if you’re still bleeding, you’re the lucky one.
Artwork by Natacha Palay