The sun slips slowly into the trees as the bullet proof vest Henry wears traps hot, musty air next to his skin. Henry’s heavy duty belt—bullets, cell phone, radio, flashlight, surgical gloves, handcuffs, retractable baton, weapon, pepper spray—is a constricting black nylon snake and a painful heat rash tears at his hips and moves slowly up his body.

Cold air blasts from the vents of the white, unmarked police car, feebly trying to keep the outside air at bay as Henry drives up and down asphalt roads, hunting. The car is cramped with equipment. Radios, radar, camera, emergency lights, computer, patrol bag, first aid kit, forms, and books spelling out current criminal and traffic law.

A car shoots over the crest of a hill. Instinct jerks Henry’s hand to the radar control velcroed to the center console. 45-46-47, the red LED lights flash. The limit is 25.

Adrenaline shoots into Henry’s blood and he lights up the night with strobing white and blue lights. He cuts a quick U-turn, almost crashes into a ditch, regains control, turns a knob—piercing the muffled evening air with a shrill yelping noise—and takes chase after the car—white Chevy Malibu, four door, unknown number of occupants. Henry pushes the gas pedal to the floor, hoping to close the distance, as the Malibu blows a stop sign at the end of the road and turns North.

“Dispatch 924 pursuit,” Henry shouts into the white hand-mike gripped in his hand.

“Go ahead 924,” a calm female voice answers, muffled, through a speaker mounted near the floor.

“North Sycamore and Custer, white Chevy Malibu, excessive.”

“10-4 924,” she acknowledges. “920, dispatch.”

“Go ahead for 920,” Woods answers.

“Did you copy 924’s traffic?”


“10-4, 10-76 vicinity of Sycamore and Custer, 924 pursuit.”

“10-4,” Woods answers, his voice high and excited.

Shit, Henry thinks, not Woods. Anyone but Woods.


Woods came to Fort Shelton a year ago and was assigned to Henry’s platoon.

“Henry,” Sergeant Staber, the platoon sergeant, called out when he came into the office and found Henry looking at the schedule. “You were in Germany, right?”

“Yes, sergeant,” Henry answered. He had been in Germany for two years and just got back to the states a few months ago.

“Good,” Staber said, sitting down behind his cluttered desk. “We got a new soldier in today. He’s coming from Germany. Woods, I think, is his name.” Staber stops and looks up at Henry for some sign of recognition. “Don’t know him?”

“No, Sergeant,” Henry said. Germany’s a big fucking place.

“Anyway,” Staber continued, “I’ve got him scheduled to work with you on Friday night. Show him the ropes.”

“Yes, Sergeant,” Henry answered and walked out of the office.

Henry met Woods for the first time that Friday night. Henry came running into the small building where the shift would meet and draw weapons. A heavy summer rain was falling and lightening arced across the sky intermittently. Woods was already in the building, standing outside the platoon office door reading the out-dated memos attached to it.

“Hey, how’s it going?” Henry asked when he saw him. “Are you Woods?”

“Yup,” Woods answered gruffly.

“Nice to meet you,” Henry said and offered his right hand.

Woods looked down at the hand like it was a dead mouse he stumbled upon before taking it half-heartedly. “You too.”

Henry ignored this and went on, “Sergeant Staber says you’re riding with me tonight.”

“That’s what he told me.”

“You’re coming from Germany?”


“I just came from Germany, too.”

“Oh yeah,” Woods said, “what unit?”

“I was with the 18th Military Police Brigade in Bamburg,” Henry said.

“Brigade,” Woods scoffed and turned back to the memos he had been reading.

Henry looked at Woods. Noticed he was wearing black leather gloves in the middle of July and kept balling his hands up into fists. Woods wasn’t necessarily short, he was squat. And he had an arrogant way about the way he carried himself, like he thought all that fat was really muscle. Henry shook his head and walked down the hallway towards the arms room.

Henry was showing Woods around the post, showing him the housing areas and main roads, when the rain finally stopped. On the way out to Rose Terrace they fell in behind a beat-up, shit-colored, Chevy sedan. The car crawled along the road and crossed over into the opposite lane. Woods was still wearing his gloves.

“Good, good,” Henry said, hitting the blue lights. “Looks like we’ll get a drunk tonight.”

After stopping the car, Henry approached and asked the driver for his license and insurance. The driver was able to produce these items after a confused search which first produced two credit cards and a condom. The odor of piss, puke, sweat and alcohol poured out of the car. After running the license to check for wants and warrants, Henry had the driver to step out of the car and asked him to do a balance test. Henry demonstrated this test to him by standing on one leg and counting out-loud to thirty.

“Man,” the driver said, a relaxed smile on his face, “I’ll tell you right now I can’t do that shit.” Woods, who had been watching all of this while pacing back and forth and shaking his head, freaked out.

“You better do what he fucking tells you to do,” Woods suddenly screamed.

Henry started and turned to look at Woods.

“What the fuck did you just say?” the drunk asked, suddenly aware.

“Do what this officer tells you to do,” Woods growled. “And don’t fucking curse at me.”

“Woods,” Henry said quietly, “go back to the car, I’ll handle this.”

“Fuck you,” the drunk sneered, “let’s see what the fuck you got.” He held his arms out in a strange, bird-like challenging stance.

“Sir, please calm down,” Henry said diplomatically. But it was too late. Woods ran up to the drunk and punched him in the nose. The man fell to the ground and Woods jumped on him, flipped him over, wretched his arms back, and cuffed him. Henry had never seen anything like this.

“What the fuck are you doing?” Henry asked him after they had gotten the man secured in the back seat of their car.

“That’s how we did it in Germany,” Woods answered.

“Bullshit,” Henry said, barely able to control his voice. “That’s how the polizei did it. Not us. And even they didn’t do that,” Henry finished, motioning to the stopped car with its driver’s door still open.

“What the fuck ever,” Woods spat. “This guy isn’t going to know what happened anyway.” And he got into the car and waited for Henry.

The next morning, Henry tells Sergeant Staber about the incident.

“That’s bad,” Staber admitted.

“He shouldn’t be working the road,” Henry said. “He doesn’t seem quite right to me.”

“We’re not going to pull him from the road,” Staber answered, scowling at the schedule spread out in front of him. “He’ll just ride along with the patrol supervisor from now on.”

Henry could only shake his head as he walked out the office—army conversations are usually one-way. Woods was promoted the next month and became a patrol supervisor.


For whatever reason, the Malibu decides to stop—right now.

“Fuck,” Henry screams as his car shoots past the Malibu. He slams his foot into the brake pedal and the car starts spinning around like an out of control carousel. He comes to a stop facing away from the Malibu. Henry quickly rolls out of the car and makes his way to the rear of the car.

“Dispatch, 924,” Henry shouts into the radio, siren still screaming behind him. “Traffic stop, North Sycamore adjacent Knox.”

“10-4 924. Copy 920?”

“920 10-4,” Woods breathes into his microphone. He sounds aroused and Henry hopes to have this over with by the time he arrives. He needs to move fast.

Henry pulls out his flashlight and pistol and looks towards the driver’s seat of the Malibu. A skinny white male with thin blond hair sits in the driver’s seat looking straight out the window at nothing.

“You,” Henry screams out. “Driver! Let me see your hands!”

The driver lifts his hands up, slowly.

“Driver,” Henry continues as trained. “With your right hand, your right hand only, reach out of your window and open your door slowly! Slowly,” Henry repeats so there would be no confusion, no mistakes. The driver seems to understand. He moves his hand slowly out the window.

920 is getting closer.

The driver unlatches the door and sits waiting.

“Driver! With your right hand, push the door open, put both of your hands on the roof of the car and slowly step out!” The driver moves as asked.

Henry sees the flashing lights moving quickly towards him.

“Put your hands on top of your head! Turn and face away from me, walk backwards towards the sound of my voice until I tell you to stop!”

The driver starts walking back and Henry, in one motion, puts his pistol back in its hostler, pulls out his handcuffs, readies to make the arrest.

Woods skids to a stop on the gravel shoulder, throwing up a shotgun blast of rocks.

“What the fuck is going on up in here?” he yells out through his window over the blaring sirens before even getting out of his car. The driver stops walking.

Woods leaps out of his car. “Hey motherfucker. What in fucking hell is your problem? You think the law don’t apply to you? You see the blue lights and hear the sirens and you think that don’t apply to you? Huh? You dumb motherfucker!”

“Woods, shut the fuck up,” Henry calls out, rubbing dust out of his eyes.

The driver watches as Woods approaches him. He remains silent.

“You,” Woods shouts like a drill sergeant. “I’m talking to you!”

Woods stops in front the driver, who’s still standing half-way between his car and Henry’s with his hands on his head, and punches him in the gut. The blow knocks him to the ground and he clutches his stomach. Woods turns and looks at Henry, a disgusting smirk on his face. Henry wants to kill him.

Woods rears his right leg back to kick the driver, but the driver rolls onto his back and produces a small hand gun from his waist and starts shooting. Woods stumbles back to his car and Henry feels something hot in his right leg. He feels like someone has kicked him in the balls, hard. The driver is shooting and running back to his car. Henry realizes that he’s screaming something into the radio.


Henry becomes aware of a white room with blinding lights. Everything is clean and the people standing and moving over him stand out in sharp contrast with their dark green uniforms. He thinks they’re trying to talk to him, but he feels like he’s underwater, looking up at the sun through all the shimmering, moving layers and can’t answer. I’m weightless, he feels. Everything flows through and around him.

And then it’s gone. He’s up. No one’s around and he’s in a dark room. Henry hurts so bad he thinks he’s going to explode. Maybe he already has. He looks around at the strange instruments surrounding him and realizes that this isn’t his room, he hasn’t been dreaming. Tubes stick out of him and there’s something in his hand that feels like a remote control. He start pushing all of the buttons in a sudden panic and remembers the look in that man’s eyes as he attacked like a wounded dog, striking out at anything as he made his way to safety.

A nurse walks in. She has a bright face and cheery blond hair pulled back in a tight ponytail and wears green surgical scrubs with a dark-blue sweater that has dancing Mickey Mouse pins pinned to it.

“Oh, you’re up,” her voice sings. “How do you feel?”

It takes Henry a minute to find his voice, his throat is dry and hurts. “Okay,” he’s finally able to squeeze out. “What happened?”

“You were shot,” she says while looking distractedly at some instruments and making minor adjustments. She finishes and looks down at Henry with her healing blue eyes, “But you’re going to be okay. Are you in much pain now?”

“Yes,” Henry answers. “I don’t understand. Shot. But I was wearing my vest.”

“I’ll get you something for the pain and to help you sleep,” she says and hesitates for a moment before continuing. “You were shot in your right leg. The doctor will be in later and he’ll explain everything.” She smiles, turns away and walks out the door.

She glides back in after a few minutes and injects something into one of the tubes sticking out of Henry’s arms. Suddenly, he’s floating on a cloud above the hospital looking out at the stars and the moon. They look perfect. He travels to them all. He’s somewhere near Jupiter coming back from the Kuiper Belt when he sees the sun starting to peak back up. Henry rushes back to his bed so no one would think he’s missing and wakes to find a serious looking bald man standing over him.

“Ah good, you’re waking up,” the doctor says and Henry notices someone moving at the foot of the bed. A green curtain divides the room and Henry can’t see who’s in the other bed. Maybe Woods? he thinks. Wait until these guys clear out and I feel better, I’m going to let that shit bag know exactly what I think of him.

“Can you hear me?” the doctor asks.

“Yes,” Henry answers. The company commander is standing on the other side of the bed. “Good morning, sir,” Henry says in greeting.

“Good morning,” he answers, tenderly. “How are you feeling?”

“Not too bad sir,” Henry lies. “Just a little pain in my groin.” The commander looks away and doesn’t say anything.

“David, can you remember what happened?” the serious looking doctor asks. The use of his first name in a military hospital surprises and worries Henry.

“Yeah. I was shot. I was doing a traffic stop and the guy shot me. Good thing I was wearing my vest,” Henry adds, sarcastically.

“Yes, you were shot,” the doctor explains. “You were shot in the leg and groin,” he pauses and looks around the room.

Groin?” Henry asks, his voice shaky.

“Yes,” he answers. “Through the penis—”

Henry doesn’t hear anything else, can’t hear anything else. The doctor goes on and on and on about how this isn’t the end of the world. He explains that Henry is young and surgery should restore most—but not all, he must be clear about that—function. All Henry thinks about is his new situation. What am I going to do now? I have no idea. Walking around with a bag of piss for the rest of my days? No more sex? And worse than that, no more masturbation? How’s this even going to work? It’s all impossible and he tries to imagine the years to come, walking around lonely and scarred. A eunuch.

The doctor is still talking, the commander looking absently out the door, when Henry remembers him. “And Woods?” he interrupts. “How’s he doing? It looked like he got shot, too.”

The commander looks at Henry. His eyes are deep and sad. He puts his hand on Henry’s shoulder and speaks gently: “Woods is dead. He was hit in the leg but the bullet hit an artery. There wasn’t anything anyone could do.”

Henry looks at him, locks onto his eyes. “Good,” he hisses, closes his eyes and tries to go back to sleep.

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