I always get the shit jobs. B.D.’s lady and little girls don’t know what happened to him. Nobody in the set knows how to get in touch with her. She has to know. I call. We both cry. He was my boi.
My Dad comes in with the girls. Tucks them in bed. Comes back out to talk.
“They're asleep...you wanna talk about it?”
“ Nothin' to talk about...supposed to start the academy next week...leg's fucked up...so I'm gettin' fucked up.”
“That isn't going to help, you know.”
“Ain' gonna hurt either.”
“Maybe if you told me what's going on, at least we could pray.”
“Pray? Pray?...oh yeah, the big fuckin' cure for everything...gimme a fuckin' break...shit, God wouldn't listen t'me...not anymore... “
“He'll always listen.”
“You don't know what I've done...who I've become...hell, I don't even know anymore.”
“You're wrong...I do know... you're my son.”
I wake up the next morning in my recliner. Hung over. The doorbell’s ringing. I can feel the girls behind me. They run away laughing. I drag myself to the door. It’s Shawna. She starts to laugh when she sees me. I can’t figure out what’s so fucking funny at a time like this. She’s staring at my hair…and my goatee. I run my hand through my hair. You know those little pink and yellow plastic barrettes little girls wear? Well, there’s got to be fifty in my hair…and some in my goatee. I holler at the girls as I let Shawna in.
Shawna is looking through a photo album with the girls when I get out of the shower.
“Your mama's very pretty...Where is she?”
Ruby answers first.
“I hope daddy don't let her come back this time.”
Shawna looks from one to the other as they continue to turn pages in the photo album. She gently kisses each of them on the top of the head. God, they sound so much older than three and five. What kind of fucking life am I giving them? My Dad comes in. He’s brought me my grandfather’s can. The handle is a beautifully carved wolf’s head.
“Uh...Dad...last night I, Uh...well, it was...I didn't mean...”
“Pray for me? ...I start the academy Monday...”
The girls introduce him to Shawna. He’s just as taken with her as they are. Shawna is a nurse, so she knows how to wrap my knee. She’s almost finished when my Dad leaves. What a man.
I remember when he died; someone asked me if I thought I could fill his shoes. Shit…I was never good enough to even shine them…
I’ve got less than a week to get my mind right for the Academy. I know that the Captain is going to find some way to fuck with me while I’m in it. Someone on that staff is going to be out to get me. The question is, who? If I don’t figure it out, I’m fucked…and there may be more than one, for all I know. I’m going to have to focus every bit of my being on not limping. I can’t say that the injury is job related…and if they know my leg’s fucked, they’ll assume it’s a non-related, pre-existing condition. That will get me fired. No badge. No legal right to carry a gun. I’ll be looking over my shoulder, waiting for the other shoe to drop. I have to make it. As long as I’m on the job, I’ve got enough juice to maybe hold my own. Maybe.
I’ve got one more job before I can get ready for the Academy. B.D.’s funeral. Fuck me. Got to take a Patron break before I can write about this.
OK…couple of shots down. Now let’s see if I can do it.
The mourners are gathered at his coffin. It’s a grave side service. An older woman from the local AME Church sings the last stanzas of "AMAZING GRACE". The casket is awash in a sea of blue and white flowers. A low hum of sobbing subs for her back-up singers. All of the guys from our set stand in a phalanx surrounding the scene. They’re all standing at a semblance of parade rest. Their heads move like radar, scanning the horizon. The woman finishes her song. The group of mourners slowly disperses. Two older women come to help his wife and daughters. A small honor guard of the gang encircles them on their way to the motorcade.
Cotton, Dobie and Stump approach me. They’re the only OGs not doin’ time or takin’ their own dirt nap. I’m standing by the casket. Cotton and Dobie each put a hand on my shoulders, and whisper to me. Tell me it’s time to go. I shake my head. I tell them I got word the shooters were brought in from New York. Avenue Bloods. I’m going after them. Ask if they want to come. I know they won’t. Everyone knows B.D. was my boi. They’ll get to run things at least while I’m gone. If I don’t make it back? Better for them. The three look at each other. Walk away. Leave me alone at the grave. Most of the floral arrangements are accompanied by ribbons with bible verses. I take one of the ribbons. "JOHN 15:13". I reach down and wipe some dirt from the top of the casket. Put the ribbon in my pocket. Wash some of the dirt off with my tears.
Later that night. I’m coming out of the kitchen. Shawna has the ribbon with the Bible verse on it. Looking it up in her Bible. I quote that part that counts.
“Greater love has no man than this, that he would lay down his life for his friends...”
I told you my folks were missionaries. I know the Bible as well as I know my guns. Maybe better. Don’t seem to help much right now. We haven’t really talked about what I’ve done. She has a right to know. I spill my guts. Everything. When I’m done, she tells me I was justified. She doesn’t get it.
“First two were justified...rest of'em weren't.”
“Let it go.”
“Talk to me Jay.”
“I had a dog growing up on the reservation...well, half dog, half wolf. Good dog. My dog. Out hiking one day. A pack of wolves trailed us. He takes off after the pack. For me. Didn't see him for a while. Thought he was a goner. Came back all bloody. Cleaned him off careful. Figured he was chewed up pretty bad. Not a mark on him. He was never the same after that.”
“I don't understand what...”
“He used to sneak out at night. Come back just before dawn. Muzzle all bloody. Everybody was scared of him. Wouldn't let anyone close to him. Growled at everybody. Except me. My Acheei told me, once they get a taste for blood, they never go back.”
“What’s that got to do with you?
“I got the taste…God forgive me...and I like it.”
That pretty much ended the talk for the night. She stayed though. I’ve wished ever since she hadn’t…but she did.
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