Eniola cole – Scars
When Mr. Lucas, the chief unit inspector called to query about my last performance, I was a little upset. The departmental office was silent except for the desk officer tapping at her keyboard two doors away. Perhaps it wasn’t coincidental as I thought. Tara, the 911 link had gotten two calls hours before; a rape case and a girl attempting to commit suicide. Team B alpha was sent to the field for this. It ought to have been Team A, which I belonged but this man had managed to intercept us, calling for a compulsory interview. The rest of the team was at the main office waiting their turn. Eager to know what the interview was all about.
I also knew I was not going to like the turn of events, nevertheless, it was the director’s call, and who was I to ignore it?
“I do my job well, it’s the only thing I know how to do best sire”, I told him when the interview began.
“Pull out your hands”, he said hoarsely.
I watched him jot down something in his notes with a red pen. Red indicated a negative report, I don’t like it. I tried to care less. I stretched my hands while the machine fluttered continuously, scrawling darts of lines on a paper. (What fluttered?) My right hand shook.
“Why is your right hand shaking Agent?”
I didn’t reply. The red pen again.
“You think your lack of coordination makes you miss your marks?” He asked. He looked at me directly in the eye; I didn’t like the smirk that curled up by the sides of his mouth. He adjusted his tie and relaxed confidently in the chair. My eyes caught the dark tie, it made him look ridiculous but that was not my business.
I shook my head, how could I explain that I missed my mark during practice? Agent Lucy told me the gun was jammed.
“Let’s try this, word association”, he began.
I swallowed and looked away. The picture of the commissioner shaking hands with someone was hanging on the wall, there was a smile on his face, and I tried to count the number of people in the picture to ease my nervousness.
“No thinking please.”
“Trust?” He asked me, expecting an immediate answer. He didn’t look up from his jottings. From where I sat, his hand writing looked like funny little drawings.
“Friend” I replied indifferently.
I didn’t answer; he was asking too much, what the hell. I looked down, clenched my fist and concentrated on my boots. I had worn them in a hurry, grabbing a snack from the table when my boss called for an emergency operation that morning. It was a case of a murdered teenager.
“So, what’s wrong with family, Joan left you, didn’t she? That could affect your overall performance on the job.” Mr. Lucas inquired.
“What! How did you know she left me? And since when does family affect my performance on the job?” I queried, disgust clearly written on my face. He didn’t seem perturbed.
“Because it’s part of my evaluation, your commander couldn’t be objective about that.”
I hated it, I hated the fact that this son-of-a-bitch just walked in to do some crazy evaluation and use it against me where it hurts. Joan was the least of my problems for now, she couldn’t handle my job, now it’s Father. I have him to contend with. He is sick and I am letting him die in some way. At least, that’s what he thinks. This strategic response officer’s job wasn’t easy on any one.
“Stay with me Agent!” He barked.
“What do you want to know?” I asked.
“Tell me about your family, you moved to your parents‘ house recently”
“Yes, what about it?”
“You moved after Joan left, how do your parents feel about your job?”
I was getting upset, I opened my mouth to speak but nothing came out, I scratched my hair and shifted in my seat. He watched me keenly, his pen working swiftly on a white paper, I saw only darts of red ink scattered across. A sighed escaped my mouth.
“l can see you need time, let’s divert, June 5, 2:43pm, Parkside building, tell me what happened.” He was watching and tapping his hand on the table like he was singing some kind of beat in his head.
But is this guy serious? My brain rang out.
“It is in the records, I am sure you saw it”.
“The human experience told verbatim is very interesting, it tells a lot off the paper.”
I was too stubborn to answer, I recalled the scene, my best friend had stepped on a bomb and blew up himself and I couldn’t help him. I struggled to stiffen the tears welling up in my eyes.
Mr. Lucas looked up from his paper sternly.
“On that day, your best friend died and you kept saying he should hang on but he wouldn’t listen.”
I clenched my fist again. “Yes! I thought we could save him but I guess he knew better.”
“Well? You couldn’t, so is that why you have issues at home? Joan must be scared of losing you, I think your father too.”
I managed to squeeze out a laugh, oh damn, he got me. He got me. I sniffed. This man is good at getting answers but since he is so good, can he shut up now?
“My father is sick, he accused me of letting him die faster, when John died, old man said I was going to die soon too and that he couldn’t handle…”
“Why the accusation?” He cut in.
I straightened and managed to say, “Because he wants me to quit my job but I can’t.”
Joan was in the other room attending to the baby; most times she got angry that I wasn’t there when he was born. I was somewhere else fighting wars waging inside my head and on the field.
My boss had walked in on the interview and demanded Mr. Lucas to release me, he was taking more time than usual and there were piled up cases to attend to. I have no idea why he was so interested in my life story; it was clearly a no for me. The day’s task was hectic.
I stepped into the room, watched her for some minutes, thoughts running through my mind. The last we met, it ended with her slamming the door on my face. She didn’t even let me in; she had simply asked ―have you reconsidered?” And I had replied, ―no” That ended it, not even pleas to see my son worked, it fell on deaf ears. I know she loves me, she hated my job and needed to see more of me at home but I wasn’t ready to quit the job that’s also a part of my life. I sighed and walked towards her, I silently wished she would let the obvious conversation pass.
“So are you quitting?” She asked suddenly. I could smell baby powder; she was at the dressing table cleaning off her hands with tissue paper. Joan never liked the baby oil lingering on her hands for long, she once told me the smell made her feel nauseous.
I didn’t answer. I picked up little John on the bed, he was sucking away at his fingers and he looked quiet except for his occasional giggles. I planted a kiss on his forehead, he squirmed, a smile formed on his face.
Joan would have none of it, she tugged at my shirt angrily, I had come because she needed me to visit the hospital for John’s post natal checkup. What more could she want?
“I am not quitting, not anytime soon” I replied.
“Why, half the time, you are not here, you are somewhere else!” She stared hard at me with tears in her eyes, I looked away. She folded her arms across her chest waiting for my response but I was rooted to one spot, I couldn’t think, I opened my arms and tried to embrace her, she pointed a finger to indicate I shouldn’t come anywhere close to her. She had on this sexy defiant pout, the one that formed on her lips whenever she got upset. I think that pout was one of the things that got me attracted to her. Father’s complaints were enough to contend with, Joan’s case was a call for attention.
She didn’t understand how important the job was to me and how hard I tried to be there. I had joined the strategic response to crime unit when I had an accident on the train and ended up the only survivor. I tried to save people but couldn’t. I was helpless and in pain until the rescue team came. The day I stepped outside the hospital, fully recovered, I vowed to join the force and try my best to save lives.
Joan didn’t understand this or maybe she chose not to. Though she left, she wouldn’t tender a divorce just yet. Perhaps, she felt if she talked to me just one more time, I would heed.
“Joan baby,” I came closer anyways and quickly planted a kiss on her lips, she wouldn‘t kiss back, it didn’t matter.
“We have been through this over and over. There is nothing else I can do than this job, it keeps me alive!”
“You can do something else! A regular job, so you can be there for us” She looked at John and back at me, I could sense the anger in her voice like she knew what next I would say.
“Something like what?” My voice was rising. She brought it up every time, to accept an offer as a clerical officer in a high tech company. What a downturn.
My pager beeped red, alert.
“I have to go.”
She didn’t answer, turned her back to me, picked up her brush and started to comb her hair. I missed how I used to snuggle up beside her in bed and sniff her hair. I reached out to touch it but she wouldn’t let me, she backed away violently.
“I would be back, would meet you up at the hospital.” I walked to her and placed a reassuring hand on her shoulders before leaving. She didn’t say a word. I knew I needed to do something fast before I lost her too.
There were already two casualties in the cross fire inside the mall, one of the mall attendants had struggled with the subject. I stood my ground on a spot, sniper rifle in hand. My right hand started to shake and I wondered if at command, I would be able to get a clean shot at the subject if it called for it.
“Stand down agent, subject has a victim, stand down” My earphone rang.
“Copy, stand down, copy” I replied.
I squatted and watched the scene. The subject had a lady and her son; they were approaching the police van but entering a car. There was little we could do as the lady and her son could get shot in a cross fire. Civilians first, says the first rule. I thought I saw a vantage position to shoot so I called out.
“I have a shot; I have a shot, good point. Do you copy?”
“No! It‘s too risky, let them walk,” came the reply. I hissed silently as the van pulled away.
“Shoot the tracker on the van, we can monitor his moves,” the voice said through my earphones. It was my boss. He sounded stressed. We heard his doctor told him to take a three week break from the job but he wouldn‘t. He reported to duty the second week. He said he couldn’t sleep knowing there was someone out there who needed saving. His wife was late and with his only son off to college, he may have been lonely. The job kept him busy.
I gave a clean shot at the van and relaxed. The work had just begun. My eyes grew dim and I thought I saw John‘s face beside the mall, I kept seeing him from time to time. His death had made a stamp on my heart. I swore to be better at the job than I ever was.
I was lost in thought and didn‘t hear a footstep approach, the next thing I heard was the sound of gunshot, and my voice rang out a shriek as my body jerked to the pain on my stomach. For some seconds, I could only think about Joan and the baby as I slipped out of consciousness.
Eniola Cole is a writer, trapped in a spinning mind with a craving for creative finesse. She is a creative content writer, blogger and a learning enthusiast. She writes at ennycole.com, her forte for the book of her mind. She is the Managing Editor of Lunaris Review.