Back before I was Detective, it was Officer Canela. That was about twenty years ago. And, no, if you’re asking, they haven’t flown by. I feel every bit older. The kids are all grown up, Eddie and Teresa. My wife, Nancy, she’s older. Nancy looks good though, you know? She’s kept it together, still hits the gym in the mornings with me, which I appreciate. Too many guys in the force let themselves go once they get past fifty. Not me, and I can tell you, I’m pretty happy that Nancy has joined me on this whole staying healthy kick I’ve been on for about seven years now. We’re a pretty good unit as a family, you know, nobody hates each other, and I’m thankful that we’ve been blessed to have it as good as we do – a good mix of making the right decisions for the family and the coin flipping our way with all that.
Nancy still doesn’t like the work that I do, but she knows I’m only a few years away from my pension. It wouldn’t make sense to quit until I’ve hit my thirty. She’s got sense like that – can tell when someone in the family is making the right decision for the good of the family. Plus, Teresa’s going off to college next year at Penn, and even with the loans we qualified for, that’s going to take a stack out of the mattress. Eddie’s still got a couple of years left at home before he flies the coop. He’ll probably get a scholarship somewhere anyways, and I promise you, I have no idea where the kid got the brains. I’m not saying that Nancy and I aren’t smart, I mean, I read the daily, and Nancy teaches, but still, Eddie, he’s playing with a stacked deck inside that brain.
I’ve always had a pretty natural disposition for police work, I guess. There wasn’t really ever a calling, not like you see in movies, though. I didn’t grow up thinking that I wanted to be a police, nothing like that. I grew up thinking I wanted to be a jazz player. Keyboard. With my hand to God, I used to love the sounds of The Duke – he was the best. After playing as a kid, and in some mix-matched bands in high school and that sort of thing, it was pretty obvious that I was never going to be a jazz musician. I never figured myself as too serious a guy, but, hey, it is what it is. I still like listening, though. When I got out of high school, I already had Nancy. We got married straight out, and my father asked me what I was going to do for work. I told him I didn’t know, so I went and worked construction for about seven years. Made some good money in that time, but man oh man those were some tough years. We didn’t have the kids yet, thank God. I would’ve been too tired to pay any attention to them if we had. Then Nancy took a look at me one morning, towards the end, and she saw me lying in bed, and I must have looked something real awful, because she said, “Honey, I think it’s time you gave it up.” She always had a good sense for what we needed to do to keep it together, the two of us.
So that’s when I decided to become a police. Went through the academy and all that. Got assigned to a beat. This was back when you’d walk the beat, not everybody had cars yet – especially not in Philly. You didn’t need them. I had that beat for about, oh, I don’t know, nine years maybe. Good beat. I spent my days walking through Queen Village, along the Delaware River. Even in the eighties, with all the recession going on everywhere, the neighborhood was the neighborhood, you know? Lots of families, lots of good people, couple of misfits and stuff like that, but I never had to use my service weapon. Couple of arrests here and there, sure, but nothing some of the other guys had to deal with. I never really had any run-ins with the mob. Most people in the neighborhood got to know me pretty quick, so if there were ever any problems, I’d get a phone call, or a quick wave to come on over and chat for a second. “Officer Lou,” they’d say, “I think I know who broke into so-and-so’s house the other day.” I’d say, “Okay, what do you got?” That was pretty much the extent of it. Sometimes guys turned up and I took them in, and sometimes they didn’t. Leads were handed off to detectives for anything more serious, and I didn’t really get in anybody’s way. Teresa was born when I was on the Queen beat, and Eddie a few years later.
So anyways, so it must’ve been about fifteen years ago now, because Teresa had already started in the Scouts when she was four or five. I came home to Nancy after walking the beat all day, and Nancy tells me not to take my shoes off yet, and I’d better not even think about relaxing, because I was about to head back out there and sell some cookies. I remember it clear as day. “Come on, Babe,” I pleaded with her, “I just got home, and I’ve already been walking around all week, how about I just do it on the weekend.” “No,” she said, “You’ve been saying that all week, and it’s five o’clock now, it’s a great time to start out and catch people coming home from work. They’ll be all happy that it’s the weekend, and you’ll be standing there with some cookies from the Girl Scouts of America. You’ll sell them like hot cakes, I promise. And anyways, I told Teresa and Jane to stay at the Starr Park until six, and then I’d pick the two of ‘em up, but since you’ll be out walking around selling cookies, you can pick them up. She’ll love it. See her daddy in uniform at the park…”
I mean what could I do? The woman was unrelenting. She knew what needed to be done, and she’d made up in her mind that I was the one to do it, so who was I to argue any further. If there’s anything I’ve learned about marriage over the years, it’s that when one of you has strong convictions about something in particular, and one of you could care less about it either way, then there’s no sense in arguing. You just have to heed to whoever feels stronger. Did I really want to go sell cookies door to door after a full eight hours on my feet that day? No, I did not. Did I really want to piss Nancy off for the rest of the evening? No, I did not. So what did I do? I went and sold some damn cookies for the Girl Scouts of America, so I could come home to my wife of twenty-five years and hope to get lucky that evening. And man, would I get lucky that evening.
It was all unexpected, of course, you wouldn’t believe it, and I hardly believe it to this day. I’d left the house, still in my uniform, the “Neighborhood Blues,” as Nancy called them. I thought about changing into some casual clothes, but Nancy convinced me that it was a pretty stellar idea to head out in uniform. “When they see that you’re a police, and you’re trying to sell cookies for your daughter, how could they not buy a box of Thin Mints?” I figured, hey, why not? The captain might have looked down on it if the circumstances had been different, but things played out the way they did, thank God. “Take the wagon,” she’d said, “Head out like that, Lou. Oh my, you look great! Wait, let me take a picture of you in front of the house.” And Nancy grabbed the old Kodak camera that we had at the house and she took this picture of me standing on the sidewalk in front of our house in my Neighborhood Blues, holding onto the radio flyer wagon that was filled with boxes of Girl Scout Cookies. I’ve got this big grin on my face, because Nancy was in stiches the whole time telling me I look great, like a true hero. Nancy still has that photo in a little frame next to her bed, and she says it’s her favorite photo of me. I like the one of me and my old man, when we’d spent the whole week out at Cape May, on the coast, fishing, and we’re sitting there on the pier, and the old man’s all bald and I got on a sailor’s hat, and we’re holding beers, and the old man has his arm around my neck like he’s going to carry me with him wherever he goes. That’s my favorite, and then a photo from our high school prom, Nancy and I, that comes in second. The day I made rank ranks third, if I had to rank them.
So I headed out back into the neighborhood on Pemberton just off the corner of South Front St., a block off the Delaware Expressway, and two blocks from the river. It was a pretty funny sight, and I knew it was, a couple of the neighbors were hooting and hollering as I walked by, “Hey Canela,” they yelled from the stoop, “Nice wagon!” I’d wave at them and yell, “Yeah, yeah. The wife’s got me working overtime today.” So I started stopping at every house on Pemberton, most the people I knew, the Gioras, the Maltos, I went to school with most of them, or their brothers, or they went to school with Nancy, or their cousins did. When you’ve been in the neighborhood as long as us, for as many generations as we had, you knew everybody, that’s just how it was. Of course, Nancy was right, I was selling cookies like they were made of solid gold. I was halfway through the wagonload, before I even made it three blocks. Thin Mints were the most popular, with Shortbreads and Peanut Butter Sandwich coming in second and third.
I pulled my wagon to the corner of Pemberton and South Second, and I headed north, and then cut left on Monroe St – the park where Teresa and Jane were playing was about ten blocks to the North-West of our house, up over on Lombard Street, so I headed in that direction. Anyway, The first row house I came to, I left my wagon at the bottom of the steps, walked up to the door, and I knocked. I checked out the brick building as I waited for someone to answer the door. Someone yelled, “Who is it?” And without even thinking, I said, “Police.” I should have said, “It’s Lou Canela, from down the street over on Pemberton, I’m selling cookies for my daughter, Teresa.” But I didn’t. I yelled, “Police.” The sun had been beating down on me all day already, and I was tired from the long week, and I guess I just forgot exactly what I was doing, because before I knew it, I was doing police work.
“What do you want?” the voice said from inside the door. I told him that I just wanted to speak with him for a minute, that I was just walking around the neighborhood asking questions to people, and I was just wondering if he could talk to me for a minute. And wouldn’t you know it, this guy opens the door.
I know he saw the wagon filled with cookies at the bottom of his steps, because he looked confused as to why I was standing there. “Are those yours?” He asked me. “Yes,” I said, “those are mine.” He poked his head out of the door a little bit more, and when he did the door opened a bit wider, and this pungent smell hit me dead in the face, like a pile of some unwashed gym socks or rotten meat, only worse.
“Are you selling cookies?” He asked.
“Yes, I sure am,” I said. I put my hands on my hips to show him that he had nothing to worry about. I looked relaxed. “They’re for my daughter’s girl scout troupe.”
He hadn’t stepped out of the doorway yet, but from his head and neck poking out of that crack in the open door he looked real weird. Strange like. Bug eyes. Long neck. This skinny, pale arm that kind of swung loose at his side even though the rest of him was completely still. And let me tell you, that arm was pale – like he hadn’t seen the sun that year, and if it had been winter I might have believed that he could be that pale, but it wasn’t, it was July, and in July in this city people got some sun, one way or another.
“Well,” he said, “I’ll take a couple boxes of Thin Mints.”
“Okay, sure,” I said, and as I was about to turn around and fetch some cookies from the wagon he stepped out from behind that crack in the door and as plain as day, I saw that his shirt and pants were covered in blood.
There are a few things that you learn over the course of basic training as a police, and over a few years of working as a police that help you deal with, you know, tough situations or delicate, emotionally charged climates and all that. One of those things that they teach you during all that training and that you learn through all of that experience is how to assess when a situation demands that you pull your service weapon. Demands. Well, when I saw that young man standing there covered in blood, something inside of me either listened to my training or ignored it. But either way, what happened was that in the blink of an eye, and I really do mean that as fast as I could blink, my hand to God, I had drawn my pistol and shot that man in the chest. It happened fast, and then as it was happening time slowed down, like the slow-motion replay that you see on the baseball games, and that was what it was like watching him fall backward into his own house, like time was sticky, like molasses, and that even though the laws of nature or physics or what have you wanted him to fall backwards, time had slowed so much that it was putting a brake on the whole process. The inevitable had been slowed. When I realized exactly what it was that I’d done, I was dragging his legs into the house and closing the door.
I checked his pulse. There was nothing. I wondered how that could be, and then I saw where I’d shot him, straight through the heart. He must’ve died instantly. Not that that matters, but that was what I told myself. I stood over him, looking down at this pale, bloody mess of a guy, and I tried to figure it out. What I’d done, I mean. Trying to process it, I guess. I told myself that I needed to breathe, and so I took a few seconds and took some deep breaths. In, then out. In, then out. And every time I took a breath, things got clearer. I took a breath, and I thought about Nancy. I took another, and I thought about Teresa and Eddie. I took another, and I thought about my old man. Get a grip, Lou. Wrap your head around it, Lou. I took one last breath and opened my eyes.
The kid was still dead, if that’s what you were wondering. So I turned my head, you know, away from this poor guy, and there was this deer carcass hanging in the middle of his living room. Now, I don’t know where he got this deer from, or how he got it there, or why, really, but that must’ve been why he was a bloody mess. That’s why there was that smell I smelled. And that was why that I shot this guy, because of a misunderstanding. This poor idiot, carving up a deer in his living room and now look what happened. I couldn’t believe it. There were tarps all over the floor and everything, and there below the carcass was what I thought was a blanket, but was actually this deer’s skin, all bundled up. I couldn’t believe any of it. I thought of Nancy. I thought of what she’d say in a situation like this. “Just make the right decision, Lou.” Just do what’s right, Lou. I wish I’d have had her there with me at that moment, I can assure you of that, that would’ve been one way to test our relationship.
After maybe ten minutes had passed, I’d calmed down a bit. The right decision was easy to make, I had a family to think about. I walked back over to the front door, and I put my hand up against the old wood and leaned my head against it, and I prayed to God that nobody was out there, was out there in the street, that nobody had heard anything or maybe had heard but paid it no mind. And then I opened the front door.
The fresh air hit me, like a wave washing away some putrid, stagnant tide-pool that existed inside this guy’s house. The street was quiet. I walked down the steps, closed the door behind me and grabbed my wagon, and I started walking home. I only had a few blocks to go, but in that short span of time I experienced more emotion than I had since my old man died. I felt anxious and upset, I was shaking, and then I was laughing at how ridiculous everything seemed, like with enough thought maybe it would all go away. I thought of my family, again, of Nancy, and I cried. I thought about how there are no take backs and second chances are myths. I thought about what happens when a guy like me does what I just did, gets put in a spot like I just did, and I wondered if what I did next would define me for the rest of my life. I thought about how thirty minutes ago I was one person, I was a police, and I wondered if now I was something else altogether.
When I got close to the house, Nancy started yelling at me from where she was sitting on the stoop. “No way, Officer,” she said, “You’ve still got cookies in that wagon, and you didn’t even pick up your daughter from the park.” I told her that I got radioed into the station, and that I wasn’t sure what it was about. I told her that I’d take some more cookies in the car with me and stop by on the way back home to a few more houses. I gave her the money that I’d made, and I told her that I loved her. I told her that I was sorry about not picking up Teresa and Jane, but that I really had to get going. Nancy could tell that something serious must’ve been going on, because of the way I was acting, so she just said, “Okay, Lou. Call if you’re going to miss supper.” And then she gave me a kiss. I grabbed a stack of boxes from the house, threw them in the trunk of the Cadillac, and drove off towards Frank’s.
Frank was a friend of mine since grade school. We grew up together and had the same history. Our families had been in the neighborhood for as long as anybody could remember. Frank ran a small metal fabrication plant in South Philly, a ten-minute drive from our house on Pemberton. If anyone could’ve helped me right then without asking any questions, it was going to be Frank. And if anyone had the stuff that I needed it was going to be Frank. So, Frank’s was where I was headed.
On the drive over, I prayed that Frank would still be there, that he hadn’t gone home for supper. So, I’m sitting at this stoplight, right, heading on down to Frank’s, and I start thinking about my old man. Maybe it wasn’t as clear as day as that. I had been thinking about the kid, and what I’d just done, about how stupid he was for not saying, “Sorry, Officer, I’m a bloody mess right now, because I’ve been carving up this deer.” I was in the car, driving, yeah, but at the same time I was hovering over the kid. That poor kid. Me standing over top him trying to fold his legs over far enough into the house so I could shut the front door. The best I can explain it was that my mind was projecting flashes of that scene, of what had happened, onto the windshield of my Cadillac. I was sitting at the Drive-In, watching the replay of what I had done, over and over, right there in my car. The kid kept opening that door and stepping out all bloody, and I saw my gun come into view and fire. Then it would restart. He opened the door again, and I fired. And after a few minutes of watching this, my hand to God, my old man opened that door, and I raised my gun and fired. The old man was calm as hell, even had a beer in his hand. He didn’t react when I shot him, just stood there. But his eyes hurt, like he understood but was still disappointed all at the same time. He was staring right at me from the screen of my windshield. Maybe I was hallucinating, I don’t know. Maybe it was the adrenaline. Whatever it was, at that moment, like always, the old man was there.
“In the war,” he said. The old man had fought in the Pacific. He was one of six from his company that had survived four years of fighting. “We did a lot of terrible shit. A whole mess of nastiness that I ask forgiveness for every day, you understand that?” I nodded. The light turned green, and I kept driving towards Frank’s. “But I don’t ask forgiveness from any man, because nobody who wasn’t there could understand. So, I look up, towards God, and I ask Him for forgiveness. You hear me, Lou? Let the Lord be your judge, and until the day of your judgment is upon you, do what you must to make it home to your family.”
I pulled into Frank’s lot. Now, I can’t remember exactly what I told Frank, but you’ll have to believe me when I tell you that I was as honest with him as I could be. I looked him in the eye and said something like, “Frank, I killed a man today. It was my fault, and he didn’t do anything to deserve it. But now I need to get rid of the body, and I need some chemicals that can help me do that.” I went on talking about how we’d known each other our whole lives, and that I’d never asked him for anything, but he cut me short and told me to shut the hell up and follow him inside. Frank rummaged around for a second and grabbed two big metal cans, they were about three gallons each, if I’m remembering correctly. Just as he was explaining to me that alone, each liquid couldn’t do more than strip the paint off of some sheet metal. Alone, they were inert, that’s what he said. Well, just as he was saying that my radio kicked on.
Dispatch said that Nancy had called in to the station and was hysterical about something, yelling that I needed to call her the moment I could. I remember feeling a spike in my heart, like something in my chest had burst. It’s over. They found the body, somebody saw me shoot that poor boy, and they waited until I left the house, and they saw that it was a cop and then they followed me home before they called the police. Every idea flashed through my head like a maze of lightning, except that in this maze there were no false starts or dead ends, every path led to me sitting in a cell, alone.
I used Frank’s phone and gave Nancy a call. When she picked up, I could hear how frantic she was by the way she was breathing and rambling. For a second, my heart sank. I took a breath. “Calm down,” I said. “Nancy, calm down. What’s wrong?” “Teresa’s not at the park,” Nancy said, “and neither is Jane.” I held the phone against my ear and looked up. “They probably just ran off to Jane’s house,” I said. “Did you call Tim and Jennifer’s?” “The-, the-y’re not there!” Nancy was screaming into the receiver, “They’re gone!” and then she started sobbing.
I told her not to worry. They were kids, and they were probably out chasing an ice cream truck. We lived in a safe neighborhood, and they probably just walked off down the street. Just take it easy, I told her. I’ll be back soon. I told Frank I owed him one. I threw the cans that Frank gave me into the trunk of the Caddy, next to the boxes of Girl Scout Cookies, and I tore out of there for the house where I was fixing to do something awful.
I had seen the machete lying on the floor next to the pile of deer hide. The room was already covered in tarps. I figured I could chop him up a bit, quarter him, and then halve those limbs at the joints. It might take all night for the chemicals to do their trick in the bathtub, but Frank guaranteed that it would work. Stop up the tub. Put the limbs and torso in. As small pieces as you can manage. Pour the two cans in. Lock up the house and come back in the morning. Use something to release the stopper and that was that. No more body. No more worries. He’s just a guy that took off on a whim. Let the landlord figure out that his tenant’s missing when rent’s late. Get back to walking the beat and raising two kids. Get back to being a police.
The sun was starting to set when I got back to the kid’s house. Dispatch called my radio again, and told me that Nancy had called the station, again, and that, again, it sounded urgent. I told them that I was going to sell a couple last boxes of Girl Scout Cookies for my daughter, and then I was heading home where I’d help Nancy deal with whatever it was she was going through at that moment. I sounded calm over the radio, but, really, I was scared shitless at this whole mess. Terrified. Thinking of Nancy and the kids was the only thing that helped me stay my nerves. When I pulled up to the kid’s house, I almost threw up. I parked the Cadillac. There were no take backs, I thought. No second chances.
I walked around to the trunk of the Cadillac, popped it, pulled out a few boxes of cookies and walked up to the kid’s house. I knocked on the door, and then waited for a second, in case anybody was watching. I said hello as I opened the door, starting a fake conversation. There he was, crumpled in the doorway, right where I’d left him. I said hello, into the empty house. Nobody replied, not even the deer. I put the cookies down on the floor and fetched the two cans that Frank had given me. Oh yeah, I said as I walked back outside into the neighborhood, I got more cookies right here. My radio crackled and dispatch started again. “Officer Canela, you need to call your wife. You need to call your wife. Officer Canela, you need to call your wife.”
I put my hand over speaker of my radio so that nobody nearby could hear dispatch yelling my name. You know, in case they were listening. I got back into the house, and responded to dispatch. I told them to tell her that I was busy, that I couldn’t call right now. I told them that I was doing what she told me to do, that I was selling God Damn Girl Scout Cookies, and that Nancy needed to calm the hell down, and that I’d be there soon. Dispatch remarked something about marital bliss and keeping my personal affairs out of the office.
As I dragged the kid into the living room, I told him I was sorry. I told him that I didn’t mean to shoot him, and that I didn’t want to chop him up like I was going to. I hoped he’d forgive me, but one of us was going to keep on living and the other, well, he wasn’t, and since it was pretty clear who was who in that situation I thanked him for letting me carry on with my life. He understood. I had a family and a career. He was some pale kid in a house that smelled like shit with a deer carcass in the living room. Who was he? Who the hell was he to ruin my life, to take away from me what I had. He was nobody. He was nothing. So he had to go. And then I heard a bump from upstairs.
I dropped the kid’s leg. I looked up at the ceiling. There it was again, bump. I drew my gun. Did I not clear the house earlier? Did I not even check to see who was there? I tried replaying what happened after I shot the kid, and I really couldn’t remember. Now that enough time has passed, I can remember, but then, I couldn’t. Bump. I walked slowly over to the staircase. Visions of that cell at Holmesburg darted past my eyes. My heart rate climbed. Things started slowing down, again. That walk up the stairs must’ve taken me five minutes. I thought about what I was getting ready to do. How far was I willing to go to right my wrong, to try and put things back to normal? It started as an accident, your honor, I swear, I just wanted to take it back. “But there are no take backs,” the judge would say. “I know,” I’d say.
As I entered the first bedroom, the only thing I could hear was the bu-bump bu-bump bu-bump of my heart. I popped through the door, a quick look. There was nobody there. A big bed on what looked like some antique wooden frame sat in the middle of the room. All ornate with the big posts and everything. I kept my gun steady as I bent down and peered under the bed. There was nothing there. The kid had a big old dresser that matched the make and model of the bed, and on top of the dresser were some photos in little silver frames. The first was of the kid with an older man. Might’ve been his father. They were standing outside of the courthouse, on the steps, the ones that Rocky ran up in the movie, and both guys had their hands up like they were fixing to go twelve rounds right then and there. The other two photos were of the kid with a woman about his age, maybe his wife, eating dinner at a nice restaurant in one, dancing in the other. My heart sank. They looked happy. I walked to the closet, took a deep breath, praying that she, his woman, wasn’t in there. I had my gun raised, and when I pulled that door open I pointed it straight into the closet, but the closet was empty except for clothes.
I turned and headed towards the second bedroom. I had heard something. I was certain of that much. I wiped my face with my left forearm, focused, turned the handle to the second bedroom and pushed open the door. There was a single-bed frame in the room and nothing else. It had been cleared out. No mattress, no dresser, no desk. The closet door was open, and I shuffled against the wall towards it before peeking in. Empty. Then I heard that noise again, and now I knew, I knew for sure, right then, that whatever it was, whoever was in there was in the bathroom.
When I opened the bathroom door, I froze. There, tied up like two little piglets, all gagged and bound, were Teresa and Jane. My baby and her friend done up with duct tape and gagged with washcloths. Bandannas over their eyes. Their thin little arms and tiny bodies snugged up together in that porcelain tub. I didn’t understand why they were there, how. I couldn’t move.
Now, I don’t know exactly how to explain it, but, at that moment, right then, my spirit left my body and perched itself in the corner of the bathroom above the toilet. I watched from above as my body untied the girls and hugged them and told them that it was going to be okay, told them that they were safe. They started crying and my body picked the both of them up, one in each arm, and carried them downstairs.
I followed my body downstairs, and then out to the car, and I watched as my body put the two girls in the Cadillac. Then, bam, just like that I was inside the house. I held my gun, pointed at that sicko, that sick fuck below me and I emptied my pistol into his chest. Then I called it in. Shots fired. Suspect down. Request backup. Corner of Monroe and South Second. Call my wife, Nancy and tell her I found Teresa and Jane. I felt a pressure lift off of my chest and started to cry. Send backup. I killed a man.
When all the bells and whistles showed up, I had moved the canisters into the bathroom, and I was waiting in the car with the girls. I told everyone to head inside, and that I’d be in there in a minute. I wasn’t leaving the girls until Nancy showed up. Captain Miller asked me what happened. I told him. Out here selling cookies and heard a peep from upstairs. Sounded strange. So I asked the guy what was that noise. Guy freaked out, tried slamming the door on me and then ran inside. I kicked the door in, saw him grabbing a machete off the living room floor, and emptied my sidearm into his chest. Cleared the house, and I found my daughter and her friend, Jane. Just dumb luck, I said. “You got instinct,” Captain Miller said. “A lot of guys don’t have that.”
Nancy showed up in tears. I told her that everything was fine. She took the girls home in the Cadillac. Captain Miller said that it looked like he had planned to dissolve their bodies in some chemicals, “the sick fucker.” I told him that I saw those too, when I went up there, and that I didn’t want to think about what would have happened had I gotten there twenty minutes later. “I look at this kind of thing,” Captain Miller said, “and I think about the decline of the human race. That a man can do something like this, that a man can stray so far from the path of normalcy to do something like this makes me worry about the future, about the kind of a world our kids are going to grow up into.”
I told him that I agreed with him. I believed that there was a line, and that once that line was crossed it couldn’t be uncrossed. That there were no take backs. I lied and told him that you were either filled with good or evil, but that the final judgment was reserved for God. I shook Captain Miller’s hand as he told me that now was as good of a time as ever to tell me about my promotion. Detective. I looked him in the eye and smiled. He told me that he was proud of me and that I was one of the good guys. I nodded and said that I wish he had the ear of the almighty. And then I heard Nancy’s voice in the back of my mind, what she has always said to me everyday before I left for the precinct, “Make the right decision, Lou. Don’t be no hero.” Don’t’ be no hero. And I knew, for sure, that I wasn’t.