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The Rules
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Hi. I’m Mike, and I’m an alcoholic.

I, uh. I’ve been clean eight days, but before then, I’d been clean eighteen months. I think that should count for something.

The last couple of weeks have been hard. There’s a lot of shit going on at work that I can’t really talk about here. It’s not that I don’t trust you guys, I like you, I really do, it’s just that I really, really can’t. There are rules. But I’m gonna try my best to tell you what happened.

So a couple of weeks ago there’s this kid, right? My coworker and I are checking on a call in Lynwood, where this one kid Daryl just loves us. He’s always running out and waving his arms, shouting our names. My coworker – I’ll call him John – John thinks he’s a scout for the locals, but I think the kid’s just a bit slow. I had a cousin like that, and he was into the power rangers well into his thirties. Something about the uniforms and vehicles really appealed to him.

Anyway, this call is for a domestic and we’re running cold, but dispatch is slow in getting us a street address. I’m riding shotgun and something’s off. I haven’t seen Daryl all day and dispatch has us running circles. When the address finally comes through, it’s Daryl’s foster home. I look at John and John floors it.

We’re two blocks away when John rounds a blind left. Daryl’s in the middle of the street, and we hit him flush. He’s there, and then he’s not. The kid dies instantly, just like that.

I write John up for the blind left, trying to sugarcoat the thing, but he’s got priors I didn’t know about, so he gets fucked and suddenly everyone hates me. One of them shits in my desk. Another kicks me out of the work AA group. And as it turns out, I don’t have any friends outside of work.

I hold out about a week before I take a drink, just to get some sleep. It doesn’t work, so I take another. Three days in I’m shitfaced at work. I thought I hid it pretty well, but looking back, probably hadn’t. It’s probably just that nobody wanted to talk to me, so nobody took it upon themselves to tell me to get my shit together.

Cut to last week. John’s still under investigation, so I’m riding solo. I’m cruising to keep my speed down and I’ve got my window rolled to keep me up. It’s dark, and the wind feels good on my skin.

I’m behind the hospital when I see this kid wave me down in the parking lot. It’s dark, but it’s Daryl, I swear it’s Daryl. I stop the car and get out, and the kid turns and starts walking away. I shout, “Hey!” and he starts walking faster. I start jogging to keep up, but I’ve got the sweats and I’m out of breath; I feel like I’m going to throw up. Then he turns and points at me.

I- I should stop there. I swear it was dark. I try to tell everyone that it was dark but they won’t take my statement. They say they’ll take care of it and they do. They won’t let me back into work AA, but they also won’t let me quit. They take my gun, but they won’t check it into evidence. Someone somewhere is trying to make some kind of point to me, but hell if I could tell you who.

So now I’m here. No one else will talk to me. No one else will listen. I’ve told you what I can, though none of this should be taken as a confession. I like to tell the truth, whenever it makes sense to. But there are rules. I can’t tell you what I do or what I’ve done, but I can tell you that I’ve done it. I think that should count for something.


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