©1999 - 2012
Edward D. Reuss
All rights reserved. Including the right of reproduction in whole or part in any form



While the woman rambles on, I'm scanning the apartment.  It's a cramped little place - just a room with a bed, and a galley kitchen off to the side. A single closet covered by a curtain.  Barely enough space for one person, and certainly not big enough to quality as an "apartment".

"Your son lives here with you?"


"Where's he sleep?"

"In the bed-where else"" She snorts when Carl and I exchange a look.

"He my child, Office.  I been sleepin' with my baby since the day he was born- "

I never heard the rest.  There's a shout behind me, a crashing blow that sends me sprawling facedown on the floor. It's Melvin, the loving son who's been crouched behind the closet curtain. The son who, while his mama watches, proceeds to bludgeon me with a bat while Carl stares in frozen horror across the room.  Instinctively, I curl into a fetal position, try to shield my head from the relentless blows. Bones crunch, blood spurts while my partner simply stands there.

"Carl! Shoot him! Shoot this son of a bitch! Do something!"  My anguished plea is all he needs to spur him to action. He turns on his heel, this brand-new, ready-for-anything, Ruger-toting rookie, and races out of the apartment. Taking his weapon, our radio, and my only chance for survival right along with him.

Melvin lowers his bloody bat.  Here's one cop, but the other got away. Went to get reinforcements, maybe, enough to take him down.  Better take off before they get back.

Dropping his weapon, Melvin grabs a jacket and makes it to the door before he remembers something. He swaggers back to me with a confident sneer. Cops carry guns, and he's decided to take mine.  Trembling, squinting through the liquid red, I give it to him.

The shot blasts through the tiny room. Melvin staggers, pitches toward the doorway, crashes down the two steep flights. After that, my senses blur, swim with the mixture of cordite smells, the hot metallic taste of gushing blood, and Mama screaming somewhere.

My body is a pyre of pain, a flash fire that devours me. It's easy to surrender to it.  They're gone now, everyone's gone, so I don't have to worry.  Nothing to do now but close my eyes and fade.

Dreams, visions, blessed warmth. Sergeant Woods. "Keep your eyes open...."  Booker on the Academy firing range, diving after his ammo. Diane and I laughing together. "We're cool!"  First-day antics with Manny. "You and me, we're gonna work out fine." My first day in brand-new blues. Pinning on the star. Lost children, newborn puppies. Laughter. Screams. Muffled voices.

"Are you a Catholic?" An anxious face hover above me.  Cotton-wrapped voices that barely reach through the clouds.

"Officer, you're at the hospital.  Are you a Catholic? Do you want a priest?"

Filmy shapes move around me, touching, pressing, barking orders. Tubes, machines, a throbbing computer heartbeat that matches my own.

"Code Blue! Code Blue! Paddles?  Okay, everybody - clear!"

Funny, how frantic they are, when I feel so peaceful.  Floating around them, above them, lulled by the beat of the pulsing monitor. A lugging pulse that trips and slows, smoothing finally into a thin flat line that lets me fly away.

Gina Gallo, "Armed and Dangerous: Memoirs of a Chicago Policewoman", New York: A Forge Book, Tom Doherty Associates,  2001, pages 331-332


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