Tuesday, December 22, 2015

Winter Debriefing

“Patrick –.”

“Officer McLane, Ma’am.”

Fingers are steepled together on a desk. “As you choose. The footage of the event is subpar at best, and eyewitness testimony is, of course, worthless. You were given two days paid leave.” There is pause. “Now is the time where you explain what happened at the Marmoset Hotel.”

“We had received word about a large snow fort in Regent’s Park, just outside the hotel. Last year we had drug dealers in other parks building large ‘forts’ and doing drug deals in them for months before we caught on. Sergeant Li gave us standing orders to investigate larger snow forts as a matter of course this year. This one was constructed quite well, and home to an eleven year old boy.”

“Home, McLane?”

“Not literally, but it could have been. There were at least three rooms. Two sets of walls. All designed for a short kid, naturally. He – or those helping him – had used up over half the snow in the park and cleared three roads. The city crews can verify this, I imagine. We arrived, and he informed us his name was Jay, and that he was waiting for ‘Charlie and Honcho’, who were apparently in the hotel and not coming out because his fort was ‘totally jaysome’. And then he sulked, and asked if we’d like to try taking it so he could practise.”

“So four police officers suspended their duties to engage in a snowball fight.”

“He asked... nicely, ma’am. He was so eager for a snowball fight that we couldn’t say no.”

“All right.” The commissioner unsteepled her fingers. “That I can understand. It was good PR. Who called in the SWAT team?”

“I was the lead officer –.”


“Officer West, ma’am. Caroline. We were losing, and she decided we needed more manpower. It – made sense at the time.”

“Four police officers were failing to take a snow fort.”

“Jay is very good at snowball fights. He told us he’d had a lot of practise when he was blind.”

“Pardon me?”

“It also made sense at the time. He told us he got better.”

“From being blind.”

“He wasn’t lying. I had the distinct impression he doesn’t understand lies, or at least why people use them. The SWAT team was eight men, giving us twelve in total. Two tried to use guns, but they were jammed. Jay was – quick. I’ve never seen a kid that quick, ducking and weaving, making and throwing snowballs and declaring everyone was jaysome when we finally breached a wall and got attacked by – ah, hugs.”

“Hugs, officer.”

“He hugged everyone and told us we were ‘best buddies’ and he had a jaysome time and he was really sad he won’t be here tomorrow – that was Monday, ma’am – but he’d be travelling and Charlie might be cross at the snowball fight but that it was all her fault for trying to get out of the snowball fight anyway. And then he – he grinned at us.”

“He grinned.”

“Beamed. Smiled. I – I’m not even going to try and describe it, Cynthia. You worked street. Homicide out in LA, didn’t you?”

“You know I did.”

“Then you’ve run into weird shit. Heard stories about what else is out there. The things that we deal with and no reports are ever filed. Lance.”

“You’ve met Lance Christensen?”

“Once. He was – severe. Powerful, aweful. Jay wasn’t like that. If there are monsters, then it stands to reason that there are anti-monsters. Not angels, but monsters who – who help people. Who want to be friends. Who are – are jaysome, ma’am.”

“That makes no sense at all.”

“With all due respect, you weren’t there. You didn’t – it didn’t even feel like power at the time, or even strange. He pulled us into his joy and made us part of it. He was – is – innocent of what any of that could mean to the wider world. The idea that a SWAT team wouldn’t have a snowball fight with a kid in the park never crossed his mind at all. Nor the idea that we wouldn’t want to be friends with him. You can suspend me. You could fire all of us, if you must, but it won’t change the fact that we did the right thing. That was community policing, on a level I’m not sure we’re meant to operate on, but it was and we were jaysome. And nothing the public, politicians or even Internal Affairs can do will ever change that.”

“I see.” She pauses. There are questions she wants to ask, but I think she’s scared of the answers. “And now?”

“Now I think I need to find Lance Christensen. The police officer who is More than police. And ask questions, find out where I go from here. What we might become. I don’t think Jay meant to destroy, but he – changed us. The spirit of the season, maybe, in a glory too great for humans to bear. I think Lance could help us, if he comes. If not – if not, I’m not sure how many of us will have the steel in us to remain on the force.”

“You’d quit?”

“I don’t know. We might do outreach. Become social workers. It takes a different kind of steel, but I think it’s one Jay gave us.” I stand, and leave, and the commissioner says nothing at all.

I don’t even ask if she’ll be home for dinner tonight. I don’t think about that until I’m almost out of the building. I’ve changed, and I don’t know what to do about it. Beyond go to Regents Park, circle it in my car, and hope to find a snowball fort. 

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