Five years later. Chaos in front of the 52nd Precinct. Detective Gina Vasquez looked troubled as she sat in the squad car, ignoring the mob of hungry reporters pressing against the window, blocking her view of the dilapidated neighborhood in the Pelham Parkway section of Bronx, New York.
Under normal circumstances, Gina would proudly converse with reporters and enlighten them on another successful operation or the closing of a dreadful case. But on this day, Gina’s life had taken a turn for the worst. Instead of driving the squad car, she was handcuffed in the back seat. Face spattered with dried blood, belonging to her husband, Paul Gutierrez.
Jealousy and pride had brought the couple many days of turmoil during their last few years of marriage. Gina’s law enforcement career had skyrocketed while Paul got fired from his high-paying advertisement firm. Arguments became a daily routine, with her job being blamed for their intimacy turning sour. Gina thought of quitting her job just to satisfy him. Had she done so, they would’ve been in financial ruin.
While Gina was hard at work, Paul spent his days sprawled on the couch, waiting for nighttime to arrive so he can go and hit the bar scene. Some nights he would drink beer in the basement while watching pornography on his laptop. Lying became a routine for him. Whenever asked about finding a new job, his answer was rehearsed like a part in a school play: “No one’s hiring yet, but I’ll look again tomorrow.”
Although being mistreated and disrespected, Gina refused to file for
divorce. She never quitted on anything in her life, even when the odds were at
its highest pinnacle. Their vows still meant something to her, and she would stop at nothing to rekindle the magic they once shared - at least what she believed to be magical.
Gina would make romantic plans on her days off: movie night, drinks
at the lounge or a quiet candlelight dinner at home. But Paul didn’t care. He would dismiss his wife’s effort to please him by saying he was too tired from “searching the classifieds.” After months of being shut out, Gina got fed up. She started working double-shifts to avoid being home. Alex would also take her out on the weekends. Paul offered no objections.
On this night, however, truth slapped her in the face when she caught Paul in their bed with another woman. She’s now facing Attempted Murder charges and a ten-year jail sentence. Her colorful law enforcement career had come to an abrupt end.
Desperate reporters suctioned their faces against the car windows begging for a statement. Lights flashed around her like a model in a runway show. Gina dropped her head in guilt, whispering to herself, “Why didn’t I just leave?”
A group of cops ran out from the precinct and cleared a path through the clamoring crowd, leading to the squad car. Captain Saxon Davis paraded down the divided trail and climbed into the back seat, sitting next to his arrested officer. Cops surrounded the vehicle as if they were Secret Service, completely blocking out the angry media.
Saxon was both sad and angry - sad to see Gina in such a horrible
predicament, but angry because someone she trusted had broken her heart.
Saxon and Gina developed a bond shortly after she graduated from the academy. She showed so much promise. His wife, Beverly, treated her like a younger sister. He took Gina under his wing and bestowed all of his knowledge and experience of the job onto her.
Thanks to his expert tutelage, Gina moved vastly up the ranks and became a detective within her first two years. Critics would complain by saying she’s only getting promoted because of her beauty. But unlike those women who strictly
use their “assets” to get by, Gina is much more than just a pretty face.
“I know you’re disappointed with me, sir,” she said, unable to muster the
courage to look at her mentor.
“Never,” said Saxon, “I can only imagine the pain you must be going through. This shouldn’t have happened to you. I could think of much lower-class scum who need to be in this seat. Including your husband. I’m so sorry, Gina”
“I wish to God that I could turn back the clock and change what I’ve done. It’s just I wanted to hurt him...as much as he hurt me. I know it was wrong. I keep battling my reasons for doing it, justifying my stance for nearly killing this man, but I…why didn’t I just leave?”
Gina batted her eyes, fighting the tears from flowing down her face. Saxon wrapped his arm around her like a broken-hearted father comforting his child. He wanted to tell her that she’d be going home soon, but she knew he’d be lying. Regardless, he would vouch for her and say she’s innocent even if she’s dead-to-right guilty.
The precinct doors opened, and Captain Davis escorted Gina into the lobby. Fellow officers fought the press from following them inside. The secretary hesitated to do the booking, thinking this was a sick joke. Sadness sagging down the captain’s face told her otherwise.
Officer Sylvan Livingston, a good friend of Gina’s, volunteered to take her to the holding rooms. Refusing to treat her like a prisoner, he stood by the bench and waited until Gina was ready to move. “This sucks, G,” Sylvan whispered as they walked down the hall. “We all agree that that two-timing jackass got what he deserved. Him and his whore.”
“There are far worst crimes a man should be punished for,” responded Gina.
“Adultery isn’t one of them.”
“Better than letting him have his cake and eat it too, right? He’s gonna be laughing his way to the bank while you’re the one who’ll be hauled in and out of courtrooms. Maybe suffering a good portion of your life inside a cage. In my opinion, he got off easy. I’m just sorry you didn’t get to finish the job. Speaking
of which, me and some of the boys were talking. If you, uh…if you ever want us
to finish what you started, just say the word and – ”
“Don’t do anything. I’ll take whatever consequences are given to me. Paul may’ve broken his vow, but so did I. I swore to protect the public from batterers and killers, not to become one.”
“Nowadays that’s a thin line to cross. None of us know how far we can
push the envelope until someone has the balls to give it a big shove. Good things can’t happen by just staying good. Sometimes you got to take the good with the bad, you know?”
“You honestly believe that? Disappointing to hear.”
“Well, we’re here for you, in case you change your mind.”
Sylvan escorted Gina to an empty holding room and held the door open like a doorman. He lowered his hat to hide the anger on his face as she stepped inside. He then placed the cuff key on the desk and gently closed the door.
Gina sat in a worn-down chair, alone in quietness. Usually, for her,
criminals would be the ones sitting in her seat. They would act tough and look at her sideways while she would use persuasion and persistence to break through their facade. But now, she was the criminal.
Chills ran down her spine as visions of the punishment she unleashed on her husband flashed through her mind. She then looked down at her swollen knuckles. Tightly shutting her eyes, Gina struggled to block out the terrible images. Remorse increased by the second. In a whispering whimper, she repeatedly asked herself, “What have I done?”
Suddenly, the door burst open and Sienna Vasquez entered the room. Dressed in a white pinstripe suit and carrying a leather briefcase, she volunteered to be her daughter’s legal counsel. Although retired for several years, Sienna was well respected in the judicial system. Not even the highest- priced attorney that Paul’s family could hire would have a prayer in beating her in the courtroom.
Gina was shocked to see her mother in lawyer mode. She had always daydreamed of them working together, like using Sienna’s contacts to help her put away the boss of a huge crime syndicate. Never in her darkest nightmares did she imagine her mother would be working to prevent her prison sentencing.
Sienna lifted her daughter out from the chair and gave her a tight hug. Hearing Gina heavily weeping on her shoulder angered her further. Harmful thoughts crossed her mind on what she would do to Paul if given the chance. But, she kept those thoughts to herself, for now.
“How are you baby?” she asked. Gina nodded without saying a word. “That’s a dumb question. How else would you be feeling now? And why in God’s name do they still got these damn things on your wrists?”
“Because I’m guilty Mom,” said Gina.
“Stop saying that!” Sienna snatched the key from the table and unlocked
the cuffs. “Oh, baby. I’ll do everything in my power to get you out of here, but... God, I hate this! I’m going to need a statement from you to prepare my defense. Are you ready to tell me what happened? Or I can come back if you’re not ready to – ”
“I’m ready Mom.”
“Okay. Tell me. What did Paul do to you?” “It’s what he didn’t do.”
“Out with it, mija.”
Gina took a deep breath and told her story.