Choices

White Chronicles #11

Prologue

The street light on the corner was out. I remember thinking, I gotta remind Wilbur to fix it; this street right on the edge of town’s just too dark without a light on that corner.

Quiet. No birds in the middle of the night, no cars driving by, I didn’t even hear any rats scurrying in the corners. Not that Bisbee has a lot a’ rats. The streets are pretty clean, even down here. Not much for rats to eat, not many places for them to live, in a little town like this…..but once in a while, I guess they come to visit.

Ron, down at Ron’s Service, said he saw a rat big as a dog one morning real early, headed inta town. Coulda been Ron had a few too many before he headed home…..or it coulda been a possum, I guess. It was dog-sized, so it ain’t impossible it was a dog. A real ugly one. You hate to think it was a real rat, but I suppose it coulda been.

Parked at the end of the block, got outta my car and started walking. It was so quiet, I felt like anybody listening coulda heard me coming anyway, coulda heard my shoes on the cement. There weren’t any crickets sawing away, not even a breeze to make the leaves on the trees rustle. Just my footsteps.

Got darker the farther I went. Like the moon stopped shining, the stars burned out. Like…..somebody threw a black blanket over the top a’ this part a’ town. Darker’n the inside of a sack.

Towns are like people; they’re all different. You might think, as far as being a cop was concerned, Bisbee would be like LA, just smaller; fewer cases, smaller beefs. You’d be wrong. LA’s a city that ain’t like anyplace else, for one thing. And Bisbee……the people in it are different, the things they do are different. But in every city, there’s a part a’ town where things go wrong. A small part, here in Bisbee; nothing for most people to worry about, nothing that drew much attention even from us cops--just a few quiet, hopeless blocks. That’s where I was walking, that’s where the light burned out and stayed out.


Once in a while here in Bisbee, something out of the ordinary would come along, get me and everybody else all excited, but mostly…..my belly got a little bigger, my typing improved. Some. I got a little slower, a little less alert. Stopped expecting to see bad guys come around the corner. Got used to things the way they were there then.

Got soft.

It was OK, though. You know? It was good. For the most part, I got all the excitement I needed learning to play baseball with my kid, or figuring out times and places to get Lynn alone and in the mood. It only bothered me once in a while that I was spending my time eating pork chops and trying to decide whether to get a dog, insteada doing what I became a cop to do.


When they loaded me in the meat wagon at the Victory Motel, the track my life was going down crashed into a brick wall. Dead end. As dead as I shoulda been.

Went through hell, or purgatory anyway, in the hospital. Woke up to a new life in Bisbee.

Not something I probably woulda picked if I’d had a choice. Lynn wouldn’ta brought me out here with her if I hadn’t nodded my head yes, but where else was I gonna go? What else could I do? Not sure I was gonna be Ok, you know? Not sure I wasn’t gonna be an invalid the rest a’ my life. Even if I hadn’t been in love with her, I needed her, I needed Bisbee.

So, not a choice, not really. One a’ those roads you go down ‘cause there ain’t no other road that you can see.

We were there, and Lynn wanted to stay there with her friends and neighbors that remembered her from when she was a kid; wanted to be a small town wife and mother. I think she wanted to be Harriet Nelson. Or at least she thought she did. Seemed like it was real important to her. So I worked at it, worked at being one a’ the guys, just another law abiding citizen, so things would go the way she wanted them. Lynn and I agreed being a civilian would be the best thing for a while, but it was tough sometimes. There are always women getting fucked over one way or another, sometimes big things, sometimes little, everywhere you go, even Bisbee. It was tough to leave it alone, let it go, keep my nose out of it. Let somebody else handle it.

So when Patterson Construction hit the skids and Herbert offered me Miller’s job in the little police department there, it seemed like fate. Not a big deal like the Detective Bureau in LA, but something. Herbert called me up on the carpet more than once, for stuff that nobody woulda blinked at in LA, but you know what, back when they needed somebody to confront Crazy Jeannie, even though I wasn’t a cop right then they pinned a badge on me and pointed me in the right direction. And I was glad to go.

Whenever they needed somebody to go down in the sewer for something, everybody looked at me. I guess they figured I was used to it down there.

Maybe I am.

Still, I woulda rather been home in bed that night, cuddling up to my wife, insteada looking for her, wondering what she was doing. Insteada walking all alone down a dark and deserted street planning a murder. But somebody had to do something, and who else was there?

Nobody else. Just me.

prologue  chapter 1  chapter 2  chapter 3  chapter 4  chapter 5  chapter 6  chapter 7  chapter 8  chapter 9  epilog 

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