The date was June 1st, 2008. A date that haunted Eric Warren till the day he drew his last breath. The police station always held this lingering, stiff smell of testosterone and cigarettes. “Officer of the month!” plaques carefully hung on the back wall. Police officers soaking in their 30 minute lunch breaks nibbled on paper bag lunches discussing the latest Padres game in the eggshell white colored break room. Meanwhile, Warren stepped out of his rust red 1999 Chevy Blazer and heard the crunch of the gravel parking lot beneath his feet. He removed his metallic rimmed aviators which he only wore to fit the cop stereotype and drew a breath of the refreshing mid-day air mixed with an aroma of Calvin Klein obsession cologne.
He stumbled clumsily into the station, freshly shaven, badge tucked close to his waist, and more baggage than anyone in the Galveston police department combined. Then he was officer Warren, a mere rookie idolizing the detectives that waltzed in every day passing Warren without even granting him a glance in his direction. His eyes always fixated on that golden symbol hoping one day to feel that gold tucked ever so tightly between his pants pressed against his waist. Warren walked past the eggshell white break room and noticed a peculiar headline pinned to the bulletin board. 1 Killed in presumed Drunk Driving Accident, he winced.
“Get up Warren! Sick bastard gave some junkie kid too much dope, overdosed in the middle of the street and’s holed up in the back of some alley screamin’ bout the system and what not. Looks like you’re gonna finally see that action you been wailin on about. ” Warren’s partner Alex(ander) Verrat colorfully exclaimed. Alex had just returned to the force after being in a car accident the week before. He wasn’t very pained physically, but he had been acting different ever since.
Warren snapped out of his current fixation on the golden symbol.
“Oh, sh*t sorry, I was uh, just thinking. Let´s go.”
Alex and Warren had a sort of sadistic giddiness in their step as they passed the other officers who remained seated in the eggshell white break room nibbling calmly on their bagged lunches almost as nothing was wrong. Warren wanted to ask why they weren’t joining him and Alex but he just assumed Alex had hyped the whole situation up a little to get him all excited for his first “dangerous” call.
They stepped outside and as Warren began to strut toward the police car Alex halted him saying.
“Hey man, it’s only down the way a bit. We’ll just hoof it down Madison street that way we don’t scare him off or nothin. Caller said he seemed realll jumpy.”
Warren replied hesitantly.
“Oh, well, alright shouldn’t we call the officer on sight and get some sort of report so we know where to come from, like to maybe catch em with his pants down?”
“Nah we’ll be alright, now come on before he starts popping that gun of his off.”
Alex and Warren hoofed it down Madison street all the while this concoction of smog and cigarettes loomed in their nostrils. Warren winced and diverted his view away as they passed the pink neon Lucky Louie’s sign just off 8th street where the gun wielding maniac was. Or, wasn’t. Alex knew there was no junkie maniac and dead kid, but rather an accomplice of his.
“Hey you don’t happen to have my phone do you?” Warren asked.
“Not to my knowledge, only about 10 more minutes till we’re there though. Just hold tight.”
Back at the station Warren’s only other friend was a middle aged, smart, and weathered Detective by the name of James Tyrunn whom he had water fountain conversations with just about every day. Warren always had something to say about everyone in the station. He was known for his gossip, which is why Warren only had two people who really liked him in the station. Or so he thought. James hadn’t heard from Warren all day nor had he seen him when he went for his 12:30 water break. He looked to the eggshell white break room and asked the distracted officer who now had been cleaning up their mess.
“Any of y’all seen officer Warren?”
James’ old friend detective Monroe answered.
“He left with Alex about 5 minutes ago, both of them looked pretty excited about somethin. Must’ve gotten one of them ¨dangerous calls¨ or somethin.”
James waltzed over to Warren’s desk and as he was peering over it he saw Warren´s phone light up with a text from someone who James assumed was Warren’s squeeze he had always talked about during their somewhat awkward conversations. James leaned over and read the text quietly as his brow raised slightly. Oh that’s terrible to hear baby, any idea how old the boy was? be careful and pls dont get shot. I love you. James started to panic thinking that a serious call had been made that as Alex would say ¨flew over his head.¨ James quickly grabbed all of his gear and rushed out of the station, felt the gravel crunch beneath his feet, smelled the now dirty, smog filled air. He ran to his interceptor to assist Warren and Alex. James turned onto 8th street and his eyes were drawn to the pink neon Lucky Louie’s sign.
May 24th, Warren had quite a day of firsts. His first day on the job, his first fight with his girlfriend,his first lap dance, and his first car accident. Warren’s day started full of hope, until he rolled out of his full sized bed in his 1 bedroom apartment that he could hardly afford. Warren’s squeeze Alexa knew this too, which is why the minute he rolled out of bed surrounded by his monotonous eggshell white walls hopeful for the day that it would truly be the first good day in a long time, that Alexa stood there in all of her beauty, her dark long hair, her soulful brown eyes, and her arms crossed interrogating Warren as to why rent wasn’t paid for the month when he had told her earlier that had he paid it. Warren stumbled to try to find an excuse saying;
“I-im sorry baby I just didn’t want you to worry. I start today at the station and I get my first check next week. It will be enough to at least, buy us some time okay? Please, don’t worry, I got this.”
Alexa saw right past Warren.
“Eric, I’m gonna say this one time, and one time only. You have spent half of our monthly budget on booze and putting gas into your car when honestly I don’t even know where you are half the time. All the while I work my a** off trying to make up for your mindless spending. Either you pay the rent by next week or I’m moving back in with my mother.”
“Okay, okay, I-I’ll get the money. we’re gonna be okay, okay?”
“Whatever. Get to work, you’re gonna be late.”
Warren’s first day was nothing special, the typical runthrough and training you would get at any standard job. He was shown to his desk just a little after the eggshell white break room and given a brief rundown of what his duty would be. This information is irrelevant. What followed after was a series of events that would change Warren’s life forever.
Warren walked out of the station at around 5 pm and felt the gravel parking lot crunch beneath his boots. Warren felt a buzz in his pocket and knew it had to be Alexa.
Don’t bother coming home anytime soon. I just Still need some time.
Warren then made what seemed at the time to be a perfectly rational choice to head down to his favorite bar, Lucky Louie’s. He hopped in his truck and headed down to the corner of 8th street where Lucky Louie’s was located and waltzed in to drown himself in his sorrows. The aroma of cheap gin and dirty dollar bills loomed in the air. Shadows masked the eyes and facial features of those who didn’t want to be seen. Pink neon illuminated the bartender’s face as he walked towards Warren.
“What’ll you have?” He asked.
“Gin please, the cheapest you’ve got. No ice.”
Warren was a frugal man, he would order almost all of his drinks with no ice anywhere he went in order to get his money’s worth. Warren and the bartender spent what felt like minutes talking to the bartender about life, what it means to lose it, goals, and aspirations, but I guess you do whatever you can do to get extra tips, even if it is the same sob story you’ve heard a thousand times before…
10:43 p.m, Warren stumbles out of the bar, he hears the crunch of the gravel beneath his feet, he walks toward his rust red blazer and inhales the refreshing night air mixed with a light mist. He fumbled his keys in his hands and unlocked the door, he then climbed in the truck he knew he shouldn’t have been driving. He shielded his eyes from the hyper-illuminated door light that had been burning his retinas. The ignition turned and the roar of the 180,000 mile engine was all he could hear. A sound so familiar to his ears he couldn’t help himself but to smile for the first time in a while.
Warren felt the need to go for a ride that night, by now the mist had turned to small beads of lead hammering down on Warren’s car as if god himself was trying to convey the message that he shouldn’t be driving. He began to doze off but quickly snapped back to reality. By now It was too late, Warren swerved to the right out of the way of an oncoming car that swerved out of the left lane to avoid him, the vehicle sliced right through the guardrails like a knife through butter and flew over the side of the hill rolling 4 times mimicking a thunderous clap that was lost in the storm surrounding them. Warren never turned back.
June 1st, 2008; James pulled just outside the alleyway where Alex and Warren stood. He peered past the row of garbage cans and through the steam coming from the grates below only to hear the crack of thunder and seeing Warren propelled backward followed by a cloud of red mist coming from his chest. James had no time to react before he heard a second gunshot. James sprinted down the alleyway only to find Warren´s body sprawled out on the slimey, concrete ground. James looked up to see Alex leaned over another person who James didn’t recognize. He was checking for a pulse but James inferred that since the mysterious man´s head flaunted a gaping, bloody hole through the back of it Alex would find none. James leaned over Warren hesitantly, images of their harmless shallow conversations ran through his mind. How could this have happened. James pressed his fingers under Warren’s seemingly lifeless jaw and felt a rising sensation of hope in his stomach. He couldn’t help but shout.
“My god, he’s got a pulse, Jesus, we gotta get him to the hospital.”
Alex swallowed hard, he had a different sensation in his stomach. A feeling of nervousness, a feeling of, uncertainty.
“Uh-yeah, le-lets go.”
Alex and James arrived at the hospital only 15 minutes after Warren had been shot by a man in the alley. James rushed inside to get a stretcher while Alex stared down at Warren in the back seat of the interceptor with hatred in his eyes. Warren was breathing but wouldn’t be much longer. Alex leaned down in the back seat of the interceptor and whispered into Warren’s ear.
“I know it was you Warren, last week. I know you were the one who ran me and my daughter off the road. I survived, but when she died in my arms after being thrown out of the car, I promised I would find the son of a b*t*h who did that to her and lucky for you. I was paying attention to the road and caught one glimpse of your pathetic, boozed up, sloppy face. When you waltzed into the station two days ago and I recognized who you were I put my plan into motion. You’re not getting out of this alive, neither of us are and quite frankly, I couldn’t care less. You took everything from me.”
Warren had heard everything Alex said, but he couldn’t find it in himself to say a word. He knew what he had done and deserved to die. Alex pulled the silver handgun from his belt, next to the badge tucked ever so closely to his waist, cocked it and placed it between Warren’s eyes. Warren swallowed and was ready to pay for what he had done. Alex placed his finger on the trigger and had begun to squeeze when he heard the glass in the back seat shatter and a bullet ripped through his chest cavity. Blood painted Warren’s face. Alex slumped in the back of the seat, blood oozing from his chest. Warren opened his eyes and saw James unlocking the door. When James opened the door the sun blinded his eyes, this prevented him from seeing what came next. Alex lifted his gun and tucked it close between James’ ribs and fired three times before his heart stopped beating. James flew backward out of the back of the car and flopped lifelessly onto the pavement. Alex died before he could get the chance to end Warren’s life. The chaos stopped and Warren lost consciousness.
June 3rd, 2008.
When Warren woke up the reflection of the eggshell white hospital room mixed the blinding rays of the sun caused him to wince and moan, his body ached all over. A nurse ran out of the room frantically saying,
“He’s awake! He’s awake!”
Several officers and Detectives walked into the room to see how Warren was doing. None of which had cared about him before the shooting. Eventually, the Chief joined them and Warren asked that everyone leave except him. After the room had cleared Warren stared regretfully at the eggshell white ceiling and felt compelled to do what he would do next.
“Sir, I have to tell you something.”