Something had been bugging me all day. Something important. Something that I should remember. But I couldn’t. The more I tried to remember it, the more it eluded me.
Typically, if traffic allows, I would be at the station by 7, topping up my thermo before anyone in my squad even pulled into the lot. Dorothy would be the only one there, punching out from her overnight rotation as soon as I sat down at my desk. But traffic today was hell, so I got there at 7:15, and Dorothy looked at me with a smirk, as if about to comment on my uncharacteristic time of arrival.
7:30. I stared at the calendar. The fifth of March. Still couldn’t put a finger on it.What was it about today? I searched the desk for clues, somewhere among the mountains of unorganized paperwork and general desktop clutter. My badge. Picture of my wife. Statements. Court briefs.
I was supposed to be at the courthouse. How on earth did I forget? I checked the time. Shit. 7:45. I was going to be late. But better late than never. I rushed out of the building and into my cruiser. It’s a 20 minute drive. I made it 10.
10:15. Coffee was cold. I took a gulp anyway. Lucky guy was off the hook.Entrapment. What a fucking joke. His buddies aren’t gonna be as lucky, I assured myself. I walked to my cruiser and noticed cars on the road decelerating as they passed by. They always do. Except for that one guy in the black Camaro—he was going at least fifteen over. Someone else will get him. I reached into my jacket for a piece of Nicorette. Nothing there.
I left them on the kitchen counter. Again. That’d be the second time this week.Rowley smokes. I’ll get one off him.
2:00. Rowley was still on patrol. I was tempted to radio him in just to pass me a butt. The craving made me agitated as hell.
At 2:45 I was summoned to the Captain’s office about a death threat. A death threat made out to me. Apparently, not taking a bribe from the cartel was a death penalty. I declined his offer for time off, but agreed to stop “overworking” myself.
4:30. The station seemed quieter than usual today. Something seemed off—a weird vibe in the air. What’s with John? Every time I caught him looking my way, he would shift away his glance. Was there something on my face? I ran a hand over my face to check.
I forgot to shave today. Fuck it. I was done in thirty minutes anyway. Couldn’t wait for that hot shower.
5:20. Traffic was hell again. Raindrops drummed away on the roof of my car. The windshield wipers were making that squeaking sound. An idiot just cut me off.
Around 6:05, I pulled into my driveway. My wife’s car wasn’t there. She’s usually home by this time. I stayed in the cruiser for another minute and looked over my shoulders to the left and the right, unsure of what exactly I was looking out for. Just instincts at work, I guess.
I stepped out of the car and walked to the curb. I saw a black car parked on the side of the road about half a block down. I couldn’t tell the make and model. The pouring rain made it hard to see. If I had to guess, it looked like a…
…a Camaro. Like the one I saw speeding away at the courthouse this morning. My muscles tensed. I lowered myself into a half-crouch and tip-toed back towards the cruiser in the driveway. I ducked behind it and peeked over at the entrance of my house.
The blinds moved. Someone had been watching me from the inside. I was sure of it. I drew my gun.
I went around the side to the back of the house, staying low as I tread in the shadow. I should call for back up, I thought. I instinctively grabbed at my belt, where the radio usually hung.
Nothing there. I’d left it in the cruiser or at the station, but it wasn’t the time to ponder about that. I took out the cell phone to call my partner instead.
My thumb hovered above the screen. My wife came to mind. I decided to call her first. Made sure she was okay. I dialed her number.
The phone was in the house, but nobody picked up. Only two rings later, the call went to her voicemail.
A heavy feeling weighed in my chest. The black car. The death threat. The feeling that bothered me all day.
I pointed my gun straight in front of me and took three steps back. Then I ran forward and kicked the door on the spot next to the knob. The door flew open.
A split second later, someone jumped out from the side. My finger was already on the trigger. I pulled.
The lights came on. Dorothy screamed. Rowley slowly rose from behind the counter. The others came out of hiding. Their mouths were open but no one said a thing.
My wife was lying in a pool of blood in front of me.
It was my birthday.