A Terrifying Apparition
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He was a good young rookie cop. He wasn’t a saint, but he took the blows that came his way and offered no complaints. He did his job with dedication. He wanted to make law enforcement work for the people he protected.
For days after the surgery, that young cop drifted between life and death, lying in a comatose state in the intensive care wing with his wife, brother and five year old daughter by his bedside. Each day that passed the doctors adjusted the survival odds.
He was blind. The bullet in his brain had destroyed his senses of smell and taste. He would also have to learn to walk and talk again. All of this didn’t matter if he doesn’t return to the land of the living.
His wife sat back and let her mind drift. It was like sitting during hours of flight. There was nothing for her to do but think.
The week before the shooting, the young rookie had been working on the Drug Enforcement Unit. He had tried to clear a drug corner assuming he had the position of strength.
It was on the corners of State Street and Lee Avenue over on the Westside.
He was a thirteen year old horse. Carrying drugs for the drug dealers, and making sure he wasn’t caught up in the clearing. The night of the shooting had been mild but not particularly warm, but it was a perfect evening for drug trafficking.
The young rookie’s mistake was turning his back on the young horse. He thought about it for a moment before turning away. He saw bright flashes and felt a thump to his head. He looked around for a moment and saw young feet hurrying away. He looked around his immediate area and a homeless woman began screaming. Suddenly everything around him went black and quiet at the same time.
His brother began pacing at the foot of the bed wondering if death would come and just take the rookie away.
Hoping and wishing. His mind was still veiled in a gray haze. He couldn’t remember the past. He couldn’t remember their childhood. It was all in a dark cloud. The laughing and joking was not there. The running and the stealing of the neighbors’ apples did not show. The swimming at the sewer water brook over near Beardsley Park did not register.
The only thing that could stick to his mind was his brother’s condition. And death circling the room but not making a landing. He could feel his face growing hot, his anger rising.
“Why doesn’t death come?” he shouted. His brother’s wife and child heard him, but did not look his way.
The rookie’s five year old daughter was dried of tears. She was partially in the bed with him wondering if he would come back to them. The whites of her eyes were stale red. Her light brown hair dampened with sweat. Her once brave father was now a terrifying apparition clothed only in a hospital smock, his eyes swollen and unseeing his head shaved and scarred from surgery. He was a ghost who was afraid to say good-bye. The five year old child was ready to accept the good-bye. She felt deep down that it would be selfish to keep the shell of her father alive. She took a deep breath and forced down the lump of sorrow stuck in her throat. She forced herself to take another breath only to help her remain still.
Surgeons purposed a six month hospital stay followed by years of physical therapy. He would have no sight and perhaps a first grade mentality, at best. He would need round the clock care and he would always be beyond permanently damaged.
Bells and noises quickly filled the room and the young rookie’s wife looked over at the monitor. Her eyes wide with dread and her mouth opened in disbelief.
Flat-lined, life had relinquished control.
© 2012 Frank Atanacio
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