Wake up hungover, either alone living in a motel as a result of an impending divorce/trial separation (she kept the house), or next to a half-naked woman you've met/picked up/had sex with in the previous six hours (most, if not all, of which you can't remember). When the beeper goes off a second time, hurl it against the opposite wall; this follows for both scenarios. If alone, throw up in the toilet/sink and stare at your reflection in the mirror. Don't say anything. Instead, display a fed-up grimace, the kind that exemplifies: I'm not angry, I'm just disappointed. Change into work attire. If alone, do a Shnort of vodka (a mini bottle) before heading to the unmarked patrol car. If half-naked woman is still asleep, suggest she can let herself out, and there's (possibly) pizza in the refrigerator. If half-naked woman is awake, listen to her make incredibly insightful remarks about the out-of-control state of your life while she covers herself with the newly purchased minimal thread count sheets, then brush it off by saying something like, I didn't know they were handing out Rhodes Scholarships with your tit job. Then, suggest there's pizza in the fridge. In this scenario, remove the mini bottle of vodka from the glove compartment, and shoot it on the way or upon arriving at the crime scene.
The Dead Body
Walk into cordoned off apartment and greet officer Jones/Baxter (Not Johnson, which would make him FBI, or Lynch which would make him CIA). Exchange pleasantries, accept coffee, and ask him who the lead detective is. Curse under your breath when you find out it's McDougall. Pinch the bridge of your nose and make reference to how McDougall couldn't find Joe Frazier in a bowl of rice. Finish the coffee, walk the perimeter, and examine the scene. Lift the sheet off the body. Feel the adrenalin course through. Notice the vacant look in the eyes, and the lingering aura of dread that still circles the now empty vessel. Do not notice the white knuckles of your hand. Place the sheet back. Go over the mental checklist for later: interview witness accounts, go over DNA findings, and NCIC reports. Try to exclude wrath/vengeance on the list of things to do. Put the sheet back and nod to Jones/Baxter. Leave the house and take a deep breath. Note the paradox: if you could quit the job, you would, but it's also the only thing keeping you going. Try and fail to block from your mind the fact the victim is around the same age as your son/daughter.
Old Habits Are Like Bruce Willis
On the way home, deviate from the route. Pick up a baseball mitt/dress for son/daughter as a paltry excuse for missing their dance game/recital. Walk to the front door of your former dwelling and ring the bell. Feel the anger begin to build as you fondle the key in your pocket. The door opens. Get chastised by soon to be/current ex-wife which begins with her saying you've got some nerve. Hold up the mitt/dress like a talisman, hoping it'll melt her icy demeanor. She laughs and closes the door in your face but block it from shutting with your foot. Say something witty/charming/insulting with usual rapier-like delivery. Cut to rolling around on living room floor with soon-to-be/current ex-wife who says keep it down, you can't stay the night anymore; your son/daughter is getting confused. Have angry/explosive/attempting-to-remain-quiet sex. Try to kiss her goodbye at the doorway, but she dodges it. Settle for a half-hearted embrace. Drink another vodka mini in the car.
Through the looking glass
Visit with junkie/scumbag/informant. Slap him/her around a little and remind him/her about being able to bust him/her on a parole violation. Listen to him/her ask for some leniency/quarter before relenting. Allow him/her to fire up a pipe/smoke a joint/do a line to soothe nerves. Commiserate about what constitutes a difficult life for the appropriate amount of time. Ask each other about your respective kids. Listen to a surprisingly coherent rant about choices/regrets/soul searching, and quotations from Aristotle/Ghandi/Malcolm X/Timothy Leary. Receive information about a suspect in the case you're working. Give the informant/junky/philosopher a ten/twenty and tell him/her to keep his/her finger on the pulse. Get into the car and pity him/her for being an addict. Search through the empties in the glove compartment for a shnort of vodka.
The Watering Hole
Order a shot of Jameson's with a beer chaser. Tell the bartender to stick it he knows where when he says your tab is getting higher than current/former rock star with drug problem/recent overdose/rehab stint/death. Sit at the bar with Sgt. Jones/Baxter, clink shots together, and drink them. Kill the beer and order another round. Listen to "Revelations," by Iron Maiden on the Jukebox, which only has three working CD's: Journey's Greatest Hits, Maiden, and Smooth Sounds of the Seventies volume 4. Scope the bar for a potential sexual partner. Order another beer and feel the sensation of euphoria reach its apex. Scowl openly when McDougall walks into the bar. Mock his voice and mannerisms to Jones/Baxter who suggests you're saying everything louder than you think you are, so you might want to keep it down. Ignore him and begin disparaging McDougall who finally recognizes and grants you an audience. Exchange barbs with him until a group tries and fails to separate the two of you. Go outside, shadow box for a few seconds, almost fall down from being inebriated, but manage to play it off. Miss with the first two punches as McDougall says to go sleep it off. Get angrier at the fact he's sober and condescending to you. Catch him with a leaping straight right. Watch as he transforms from playful/annoyed to murderous. Absorb three punches, and before going down, remember McDougall was a Gold Gloves boxer in his youth. Hear what sounds like Charlie Brown's teacher lecture you on how you are a good cop but disappoint everyone. Get helped to your feet by Jones/Baxter, who agrees to drive you home.
Beyond the Wall of Sleep
Wake up hungover on the front lawn, arms wrapped around a garden gnome named Pickle Bottom. Retch, but make it to the sink/toilet in the house after fumbling for the keys for what feels like an eternity. Fill the bowl with the remnants of last night. Stare at the face in the mirror, with an eye that resembles a ripe plum and is almost closed completely. Almost laugh when you realize the hieroglyphics above your right eyelid are from McDougall's ring; Class of '91 in reverse. Remove ice from the freezer and apply it to the bruised area. Wince from the pain. After twenty minutes, take a hot shower, shut the blinds, and get into bed to sleep off the hangover. Right before you shut your eyes, remember you were supposed to have breakfast with your son/daughter two hours earlier.
Wait outside of the bar/restaurant/stomping ground the suspect spends his time. Take a slow pull of the pint to ease the tension/anticipation/nerves/anger. Watch the suspect leave. Follow him at a distance and park far enough away from his house so no one will remember your car/notice your presence/write down the License plate. Remove the throw away piece from the glove compartment and chamber a round. Walk toward the door of the suspect's apartment with blinder's on, incapable of processing any sense except sight. Check the mailboxes for the apartment number and ride the elevator to the apartment. Wait outside the doorway and gather your thoughts. Ignore the smell of urine, and the sound of television programs from neighboring apartments. Remember the frozen grimace on the victim's face. Remind yourself he/she was your son's/daughter's age. Press the doorbell. Keep your finger on the peephole. Hear footsteps approach. Clench your fist around the butt of your weapon. Hear the suspect ask, Who is it? Respond with, The Super. Hear the bolt unfasten. Kick the door in and hit the suspect in the face with the butt of the throwaway. Hear his nose break. Feel temporary delight. Shut the door behind you. Point throwaway at the suspect. Watch his confusion turn to fear. Click off the safety with your thumb. Remember the look on the victim's face. Slowly squeeze the trigger. Anticipate the spray of bone, brain, and blood; the smell of cordite; the sudden illumination of the muzzle flash; the kick of the gun; the satisfaction. Don't pull the trigger. Lower the gun. Feel the tears stream down your face. Have an epiphany about your son/daughter. Handcuff the suspect and Mirandize him. Experience the sensation that comes with doing the right thing long thought dormant or dead.
The Piper at the Gates of Dawn
Take a deep breath outside the house. Anticipate the rage building, but find it's replaced instead by longing. Fondle the key in the pocket and debate using it, but refrain. Become overwhelmed by the desire to set things right, make amends for past transgressions, become a better father, rectify problems with the marriage and enforce the law while on the job. Press the bell and wait. Hear the footsteps growing louder until the soon-to-be/current ex opens the door. Implore her to listen before she begins to berate you, and for some reason she does. Maybe there's something in the tone of your voice or the look on your face. Find her staring at the contusion with concern and assure her you're okay. You're certain she'll stop you from entering, or at least she'll hesitate, but she allows you into the house and guides you over to the couch. She says she'll get you some coffee. Feel the warm sensation of guilt consume you. Begin to cry, fight against it, and succeed in keeping it muffled. Understand, for the first time clearly, your former life is what you desire more than anything else. Resign yourself to do whatever it takes to reconstruct the fractured pieces. Dedicate all the free time to being an integral part of your son/daughter's life. Walk over to the bookshelves and grab a Kleenex. Find the book of Greek Myths you'd purchased and read together with your son/daughter, and how he/she had trouble pronouncing Sisyphus's name. Remember how you avoided mentioning the punishment Sisyphus endured, and how the concept of eternity seemed incomprehensible even to you. Promise to forsake the bottle, look up substance abuse meetings in the area, and exercise more. Put in for a transfer from Homicide, make amends with McDougall, and recommend Jones/Baxter take the Sergeants exam. Take a deep breath, and realize it no longer matters what set you adrift from the desired course you'd hoped your life took. There's still time to right the ship, to make up for lost time, to become a person of substance, and to care about others more than you care about yourself. The feeling of satisfaction replaces the earlier guilt and melts away the shame that up until now was threatening to consume you. Sit back into the sofa cushions, which reminds you of the hours spent watching television with your son/daughter, of the countless hours falling asleep together with your soon-to-be-reconciled/ex- wife; how you'd carry her up the stairs to the bedroom, and kiss her on the forehead. Remember the warmth of her embrace. Smile at the thought, let your eyes wander around the living room, and settle on photographs of your children. Almost pass over the shiny object on the end table underneath the lamp. Furrow your brow as you begin to make out more details, and then get blind-sided by rage when you finally comprehend why McDougall's class ring is there.
Falling Off the Edge of the World
Wake up hungover and alone, living in a motel as a result of the divorce. Wait for the beeper to go off and remember you no longer have one. Take a hit off the pint of vodka on the nightstand. Lose track of which day it is. Take another hit from the pint and spill it on the end table. Use the recently opened court document as a coaster. Watch the dampness spread along the paper, which blurs out your ex-wife's name, as well as the words assigning, full, and custody. Finally drag your body out of bed and walk toward the bathroom. Resemble the diagram on the museum wall depicting the evolution of Cro-Magnon man. Flip the light switch on and squint as the rods and cones trade places. Stare at yourself in the mirror with a look that suggests you're not angry, just disappointed. Wish somehow it wasn't all so predictable.