It was a long day. I’m not talking a long day at the office, taking shit from some poindexter in polyester. No; I’m talking about a 10-55, two 488s, a 10-56A, and an armed robbery to top it off. That’s a helluva lot of paper work, so you’ll forgive me for taking a swig or two from my flask before getting back to it. Sitting here in the parking lot after my shift, under the flickering yellow lights, not exactly a Zen moment.

I didn’t get into this line of work because I wanted to push people around or carry a gun. I know a few folks who did and they’re better at it than me. It wasn’t the power, the money, the badge bunnies, or anything material. No; it had been the lies that set me on this path. Fiction, I’m talking. Film, television, and literature. Charlie Chan, Joe Friday, and Sherlock Holmes. They warped my adolescent mind.

I grew up thinking everything should make sense. A sock goes missing, you’re gonna find it eventually. A woman gets killed and dumped on the side of the street, someone had to do it. The dog shit in her hair, the torn dress; those are clues. Right?

The world was a story. The people were characters. My childhood was just prologue. So I acted accordingly. I joined the Army thinking it would be interesting, and I suppose it was. Saw some stuff then, felt a few things, but it was different from what would come. I could justify it. It wasn’t America. Things would be better back in my country.

So when I got stateside, I moved to the City of Angels, the town that made all those lies I loved so much. Got myself some digs and went through the Academy. Those were the good times. Reading the books, doing the drills, it felt right. It made sense.

Then the work began. Got saddled with a guy named Griggs who had a sick sense of humor. Gallows, you’d call it. In the beginning, it was exciting. The feelings were fresh. Every day a unique adventure. But with time, the exhilarating began to feel exhausting. My apathy grew. The days were still full of events, but the roles began to be realized. The patterns formed. The transients, the punks, the whores, the victims: their faces changed while their stories remained the same. I quickly lost the illusion that I could change the way that people acted. The archetypes were all etched out, long before I arrived on the scene.

As a young man, I never saw much point in drinking. After all, when the world makes sense, why dull one’s senses? It took less than a year on patrol for me to acquire the taste. Slowly, Griggs’ jokes got funnier, my hair got thinner, and I seemed to get a handle on things.

Then today happened.

Griggs and I are talking about coffee when we hear there’s a 211, robbery in progress, nearby. We pull up and 20 minutes later, I’m standing out in the parking lot while Griggs tells me, “It was justified. Don’t worry, I got your back,” while four other officers are cordoning off the area. Three years without having to use my gun and then one day a teenager with a double-digit IQ points a snub-nose in my direction.

So here I am under the flickering lights. Mind racing, a collage of horrifying thoughts and memories passing by. The 87-year-old woman we found marinating in her own urine on the checkered floor of her kitchen, the less than 50 percent clearance rate of homicides in LA, the possibility that the pain I feel when I shit could be colon cancer. It gets me thinking about what kind of story my life is turning out to be. No jewel thieves, international spies, or femme fatales are anywhere to be seen. Plenty of muggers, schizos, and cop haters, though.

I try to recall the last friendly conversation I had with a civilian. Instead, I hear the shouts, shrieks, and protests of all the pricks I’ve had to cuff. “Pig, whitey, gringo, cracka, Nazi.” Sometimes it makes me laugh, sometimes it makes me furious. Right now, it just makes me want to drink.

I killed a kid today. I guess that’s what they pay me for.