Legacy – 5

5

It came rolling through the station like a bureaucratic freight train. The Chief calling him in to the office and, with a guilty expression, asked him to voluntarily relinquish his badge and service weapon. It was just a technicality, of course, and things would surely be set right very soon, or so he was assured.

He handed them over, feeling as low as he had ever felt in his life. It felt like a resignation, like a personal failure. To give them up was to surrender his career, to confront that he was no longer trusted. But worse still, he realized that even when he was cleared, he wouldn’t be asking for them back.

Then it was a long walk down the hall for an official questioning by his old buddy, Ballard. He declined a lawyer, just to prove that he had nothing to hide, but those eyes that watched him walk had already made up their minds, already convicted him.

Ballard, of course, had nothing. He made suggestion and implications, demanded answers that Alder couldn’t have, insinuated that doom was about to fall. With that ever-loving smirk, he offered one last chance to come clean before a special coroner’s report arrived. One bluff after another.

“Alright,” barked Ballard, when the knock came at the door, “Sit tight, and I’ll be back.”

Time ticked on. Seconds became minutes, and minutes stretched on towards an hour. When the door opened again, it wasn’t even Ballard. He hadn’t even had the guts or courtesy to admit that all of this was for nothing.

“The report clears you.” beamed the young officer, as if he had known it all the time. When Alder stepped outside all his “friends” were smiling, some even clapped. The noise didn’t last too long when they saw his face, the disgust and contempt there spoke for him.

And for the past week, Alder had been sitting at home, sipping beers and wondering what he would do with the rest of his life. He thought about becoming a private investigator, he certainly had the skills and a good reputation despite this little “tarnish.” But that felt like another failure, a step backward and downward.

For all of it, there was something that troubled him deeply, or, rather, what bothered him was really a nothing. The night before he found the note, something strange had happened.

He had finished dinner and sat down on the couch to watch a little tv. Suddenly, everything went black. He was aware of this darkness, stretching on for sometime. Then his eyes popped open and he found himself sitting where he had been but several hours had passed. He had said nothing about it, hadn’t even gone to a doctor, which he might have if not for the note.

He hadn’t lied to Ballard, he didn’t know anything else. But he knew something was wrong. Now that the investigation was officially off his back, he could finally look into things for himself.

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Joe Stanley

Story by Joe Stanley