The police

“Holy shit!”

Geraud rose from his chair as the voice relayed grisly details over the receiver. It’d happened so fast that it was all over before the cops could even get to the scene.

Teenagers are stupid. Worse, drunk.

He’d seen a lot. In his twenty years in the force, he’d seen over thirty kids, plus his own son, who should’ve never cleared the driving test. How they’d gotten their licenses was beyond him. And yet, here he was again, looking down at the unseeing beetle eyes of an eighteen-year-old.

Spurting out from the vessels in her temple, think blood was creeping over her naturally blonde hair, now almost burgundy. He stood unflinching as the liquid flowed towards his feet. Forensics was late again.

Not that he needed them to explain what’d occurred. Surely, the lack of an airbag, the cracked old flip phone by the corpse, and the empty bottle of Shiraz, now resting against her lifeless libs, could only mean that she was a victim of heartbreak and lax parenting.

He signed, preparing himself for the inevitable dramatic tantrums the parents would throw.

Oh, well.

Same ol’, same ol’. Thoughout the years, nothing ever changed.

And so it was when he met the parents three hours later. Windswept and panting, they scampered into his office, tears and perspiration mangled together in the mother’s face. Just as he’d expected. The father remained stony—a look Geraud knew only too well. They all looked courageous at first. He’ll break down soon enough.

It was an intense sixty minutes. Not that Geraud wasn’t used to it. He listened without interrupting, as the mother wailed and eventually moved on to a muffled moan. Rebekkah had been the perfect daughter, Geraud learnt. She’d never had a drug problem, no boyfriends, and no late-night parties. In fact, her mother whimpered through sobs, she’d thought her daughter was at a study group that evening.

Geraud nodded sympathetically. He knew. Noting surprised him anymore.

Though he was looking at the mother, as she spoke, Geraud saw from the corner of his eye what he’d been expecting all along—the father’s gaze weakening.

He was good at this. People at the office had thought Geraud would leave the force after his son crashed a motorcycle into a moving truck. They’d thought dealing with his son’s split scull had been too much for Geraud to return to work.

But he did. And as he sat in his rocking chair at home that night, sipping his whiskey neat and straight, Geraud knew he’d never retire. He’d seen empty sockets, crushed bones, broken sculls, and overflowing brains. He’d seen mangled manes, twisted arms, and cracked ribs. He’d seen so much.

Not enough.

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