Wednesday, July 18, 2007

I Wonder

It's nearly midnight and the house is dark except for the flickering light from the television.
The soundtrack of a cartoon mixes with the gentle hum of a oscillating fan.
He's lying on the couch wearing a pair of shorts; A light blanket is weaved through his legs.
He's a tan and dark haired.
He's an average sized guy relaxing in the living room.
He's dead.

I'm standing behind a team of paramedics as they confirm the absence of vital signs on their medical machine. His eyes are slightly open and gaze blankly towards the television. One might think he was asleep except for the foamy, blood-tinted liquid drying around his nose and mouth. As uncirculating blood begins to settle in the body, it becomes darkened and visible in the fingertips and toes.

His younger brother is on his knees in the front yard, pounding the ground and sobbing. His girlfriend tries in vain to console him. It was he that found his brother on the couch and called 911 just a few minutes ago. A crisis response team is on the way to help younger brother deal with his grief.

As the medics leave the house, I am alone with the man. It is not creepy, scary, or even sad to me. It's simply a part of my job that I've come to handle the same way others might handle a conference call or a pizza delivery. I scan the room for any obvious signs of foul play. The doors and windows are all locked and there is no visible trauma on him. My duty is to stand by and prevent anyone from coming into the house until the detectives arrive.

Then I begin to wonder:
Why would someone so apparently normal and young just die? Who was he and what did he do? How will his parents react when they find out? I already saw how affected his younger brother was but what about coworkers, ex-lovers, friends, and neighbors? Will a lot of people come to his funeral? Was he liked? Did he have any kids? I saw junk mail and bills in his name on the counter and wondered how long mail will still arrive for him. What was the last thing he ate? Who was the last person he talked to and what was said? Did he want to die? Did he kill himself or did he have some kind of medical ailment?

Why don't I feel sad for him? I have a family and friends and can't begin to think how I'd react if something happened to one of them.

Whoever you are/were, I hope you rest in peace.


At July 19, 2007 7:04 AM, Blogger Loving Annie said...

Good Thursday morning Officer Gary,

You probably didn't feel sad for him because you didn't know him.

If you cried for everyone you saw injured or beaten or dead, you wouldn't be able to do your job without totally breaking down.

I think it is nature's way of saying 'the people who help can see and understand, without taking it so to heart, that they lose their ability to be effective.'

At July 19, 2007 9:36 PM, Blogger silviaeny said...

So what was the cause of his death???
I'm intrigued now.

Welcome back! And please let us know more about your detective classes.


At July 20, 2007 7:06 AM, Blogger Dirk_Star said...

Very nice piece...

At July 20, 2007 8:20 AM, Blogger Jason said...

Been there, done that. You react that way to keep yourself sane and able to do your job. When the day comes when you can eat a sandwich over a corpse with no feeling then you need to take a deep hard look in the mirror.

At July 20, 2007 8:21 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Yeah, the first hundred bodies are like that.

At July 21, 2007 2:06 PM, Blogger Scott said...


At July 24, 2007 11:27 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

oh my...i cannot imagine. this was so well written. you should write a book of your experiences. i would definitely read it.

At July 31, 2007 11:58 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I've been on many of these. The weirdest was the dude hanging from a noose blowing back and forth in the breeze.


Post a Comment

<< Home