This is the first of four chapters from a short story. . .
Death is everywhere. The inevitable ending will undoubtedly come, sometimes unannounced and sometimes expected, sometimes tragic and sometimes just. But as life begins, it will one day end.
Officer Gabriel Farmer worked his beat like any other day. He worked the afternoon shift which was busy in the northwest section of town. He worked the gambit, from domestic disturbances, drunk and disorderly subjects, drug complaints, burglaries and the occasional street violence that seemed to plague the city.
He had just left the jail after catching a wanted person right out of the gate. The forgetful drug addict had failed to recognize Farmer from his arrest the week prior and tried to lie about his name again. He realized the cop wasn’t buying the alias and upon finally seeing through the foggy haze of the narcotic high, the foolish man remembered the young cop’s face and tried to run. Farmer was ready and pounced on the pathetic criminal before taking him to jail. He never understood the stronghold that drugs had on people and to what lengths they would go to just to chase the next high.
After leaving the jail, he drove back inside the boundaries of his beat and passed by a city bus stop where a man sat alone. The man perked up as the marked patrol car passed by and watched Gabe intently. He was disheveled in appearance and Farmer guessed the man was homeless. His tousled hair and odd mannerisms, as he observed during that short window, led to the assumption he had the additional burden of a mental illness. Gabe peered out of the windshield and locked eyes with the man. He saw a darkness surrounding the man that engulfed his being. His soul was tormented by some unknown evil lurking like a leviathan waiting in the depths of hell. It was distracting to the point Gabe veered slightly off the road as he passed the bus stop. He snapped out of the mini trance and headed to the next call.
He wondered about the demons that men possess inside and tried to shake the eerie connection he felt with the man at the bus stop.
As dinner time neared, Gabe checked in with a squadmate to swap stories collected from earlier in the shift. Suddenly, an alert tone beeped over the radio calling for the nearest units to respond to a car crash with serious injuries just down the street. Gabe answered the call and sped down the road with his lights flashing and sirens blaring. As he prepped mentally for the call ahead, a cold chill shuddered down his spine as he realized he was responding to the area of the bus stop where he saw the tormented man. The dispatched updated the notes of the call; it was a vehicle versus a pedestrian crash. An unsettling feeling began to grow in the pit of his stomach.
As he broke the crest of the hill, he saw a charter bus pulled off to the side of the road, its hazard lights were flashing and a uniformed driver waved frantically at the oncoming patrol car. A small white sedan was stopped at an odd angle just a few yards past the bus still sitting in the inside lane. It’s driver’s side door was slightly cracked open. Gabe parked in the middle of the road short of the scene and left his emergency lights on to warn approaching traffic. He jumped out of the patrol car and ran up to the scene. He ignored the bus and the small white sedan, for what he saw was a bloody heap of human bones and skin painfully distorted to the realm of utmost horror. He ran to the man’s side and locked eyes with the tormented man he saw at the bus stop earlier that day. He knelt down to his side.
He was still alive, barely. His eyes were wide with unanticipated fear and looking around for answers that would never come. His face was cut deep across his forehead and both cheeks, gashed down to the bone and seeping blood. His body was inhumanly contorted as his left leg and ankle somehow came to rest across his right shoulder and his foot was twisted around pointing outward. His insides were pulverized into pieces by the small white sedan that hit him at forty miles an hour and rolled over his limp body sending him tumbling down the asphalt in excruciating pain. The man gasped for air and tried to grab for his leg and move it back to where God had intended it be, but lacked the strength and ability to make that happen. As he desperately searched for answers with his eyes, he finally looked over at the young cop who was knelt down by his side.
An overwhelming sense of helplessness washed over Gabriel Farmer as to what he could do for this tormented man. He was trained as a first responder but that would not be enough to help this man. A team of surgeons dressed and ready wouldn’t make a difference. The man’s searching eyes locked onto Gabe’s as if to say “help me”. He looked over the man’s body and felt there was only one way to truly help. He grabbed his hand as it searched for the misplaced leg and he held it tight in his own. The sound of sirens from additional units grew louder as they approached the scene. He leaned over to the man, who stopped his futile struggle to listen to Gabe.
“Let go, brother. Just let go.” Gabe said in a soothing and comforting tone unfitting for the middle of a highway amongst the chaos of a horrendous traffic crash. Gabe repeated the soft command and felt the grip of the tormented man loosen in his own. Taking the cops advice, he stopped fighting and let the light fade from his eyes.
No matter how small of a chance the man had for survival, he would never walk, never hold anything in his hands, make love, hug a friend or even control his bodily functions. The torment and anguish would be over and he could rest in peace.