Wednesday, April 3, 2013

THE LEGION OF NIGHT, CHAPTER 2

      It's Monday morning, eight am, and two things wake me up- my alarm, and Douglas, my cat, who for some strange reason likes to sack out on my head. When he was a kitten, it was cute, but at fifteen pounds, he can be a bit much.
     I carefully peel Dougie off of me, set him on the bed, and send up a prayer; Good morning, Lord. Thank you for watching over me as I slept. Dougie sits watching me impatiently, starving feline that he is, his tuxedo-colored fur twitching in spots.

     As he plows into his kibble, and my coffee is brewing, I stroll into the bathroom, and take that dreaded First Look-middle aged, overweight, salt and pepper hair, salt and pepper ancestry, Christian, widower, retired cop, Damon Allen Wishgood. The view's even worse after I put on my glasses

     I ask myself again why I came back to Alsace, after twenty-odd years on the Cleveland Police force, and I give myself the same answer, "It was easier, you yutz." It wasn't the shooting, the rehab, or the early retirement-it was Linda. We met in high school, married, and were each other's best friends for nearly thirty years. No children-my problem, not hers- but we carried each other over every threshhold we ran across, right up to the end.

     I know where she is, and I know I'll see her again, but I miss her now, and the Second District, all of Cleveland, was just too full of her. Cancer can kill so much more than just the patient, especially when it goes into hiding for a time, and lets you think everything's going to be fine. I was recovering from a bullet to the chest when we got the first diagnosis, months of prayer, chemo, remission, then the relapse....she was gone so quickly.

     They say your faith gets you through the tough times, and it does- but sometimes, you're barely skimming the wavetops.

     I'm okay....it took time, but I returned to our hometown, re-connected with a few buddies on the force here, and became valet to a fifteen pound tomcat in evening wear. We keep each other company, although he's yet to spring for dinner.

     As I'm sipping that first cup of crank-turner, thinking about going to fetch the morning paper at Garcia's,
my phone rings. Since Dougie is busy, I answer it.

     "Wish," says the voice at the other end, "can you meet me at Bill and Bud's for lunch? Something weird's going on...."

     "Tony, like what," I say to my former partner. We cruised in a blue and white for three years in North Alsace, before me and Linda moved to Cleveland (better opportunities, we thought). "is it those idiot bikers again...."

     "Nope, I wish it was that simple", says he, "just meet me there, and I'll tell you everything I know....see ya." I'm hearing dial tone.

     Lunch is three hours away, and my spidey-sense is tingling. I'll be there, no doubt. First things first....shower, shave, read a couple chapters of Romans (for Sunday School this week), walk the five blocks to Garcia's Market, grab the paper, a couple bagels, and some chicken for supper -thighs, which will wind up in the oven with some potatoes, walk back, stopping to talk to a couple old-timers in a blue and white who 're just rounding the corner by my house-I thank God for the fifty-lebenth time that I never sold, just let it out to rent- they say tyhat there's a strange vibe in the streets lately, and rumors of someone stalking the mooks that run at night, although no one seems to know exactly what's going on.

     Arriving home, I straighten up a bit when I get back. I don't believe in ghosts, but sometimes, if I let things go for too long, I feel like Linda's disappointed in me. She loved a neat house, and taught me how to appreciate one. I was never a slob, but I have a habit of letting things get cluttered; I've got CDs stacked by the player, rather than on the shelves, books left out on the seldom-used dining room table, and the bedroom looks like a fire sale went on.

     Dougie smells chicken, and is going through his Starving, Mistreated Feline routine, even though there's a half bowl of 9 Lives about four feet away. I shoo him  away from the package (as a young'un, he once ate an entire pound of hamburger from Gebheart's Kosher), and put the meat in the freezer. I look around the kitchen, with so  many things that say Linda, things I couldn't bear to get rid of, although everyone said I should.

     By now, it's after ten, so I throw some clothes in the washer; they'll be ready for the dryer before I leave for lunch. Sometimes, I miss being out in the field, working a case, but I recognize that I needed to get away, let myself grieve, let the Holy Spirit heal my wounded soul.

     Portrait of Damon Allen Wishgood, aka Wish, in his native habitat; the hits just keep on comin'.

    

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