Saturday, 3 February 2007

Chapter 9: Reflection

Screw them all, I’m going home, I thought as I passed my apartment on the way to the crime scene. My foot hit the brake pedal and I turned the car around. I had to at least freshen up before taking on a new mission.

What the hell, I’m going to be working with the World Health Organisation for the first time. Better make a good first impression.

I would have tried to convince myself that Captain Nash might agree with that logic if I cared one way or the other.

I stopped the car on yellow lines at the side of the road and hopped out. It’s one of the few perks of the job: no one ever gives a cop a parking ticket. Well, no cop ever pays the fine anyway.

There was no air conditioning in my block so there was no relief from the heat as I walked through the front door. The lift was broken as usual so I took the stairs up to the fourth floor and had to take a second to catch my breath when I got to the top.

I really need to sort myself out if I’m going to stand any chance of doing myself justice today. I could do with visiting the gym as well. They’ve been taking my money on the first day of every month for the last two years so I should really start getting my money’s worth some time soon.

There was a familiar smell as I opened the door to my apartment. I call it home. Every home has a distinctive smell. It just so happens that I’m the only person who appreciates my apartment’s distinctive smell.

I peeled off my suit and shirt and dropped them in a soggy pile on the floor. In the corner of my eye, I caught the sight of my bare body in the long mirror on the wardrobe. I hadn’t taken a good look at myself for a long time.

I had to do a double take, I was so shocked.

Do I really look like
that? Where did that gut come from?

I prodded my stomach and it wobbled. Only a little bit but I definitely saw a wobble. Last time I looked, that chest was tight. I used to play squash three times a week for Christ’s sake! I’m sure the six pack was still under there somewhere but a soft cushioned layer had appeared from nowhere.

Looks like I’m built for comfort rather than speed these days
. I looked down and saw the dusty handle of my old squash racket poking out from behind the wardrobe. There was no doubt in my mind: I needed to sort my life out.

I walked into the bathroom and as my feet stuck to the floor, I registered the fact that I also had to sort my apartment out as well. I couldn’t remember the last time I gave the place a thorough cleaning. To be honest, I couldn’t remember the last time I even gave the place a light dusting.

I stepped into the shower and closed my eyes, letting the hot water rain down on me. I hoped it would wash away the pains like it had washed away countless hangovers over the past five years. I was sober now though. I hadn’t had a drink for over a week.

Eight days and counting.

I turned off the shower and took a second to gather my thoughts. Rubbing the water out of my eyes, I knew the pain was still in my mind. The urge to sleep for a week hadn’t subsided but the rest of my body felt a bit better than it had since last Tuesday, probably because I hadn’t had a shower since last Tuesday.

I got out of the shower, dried myself off and looked at myself in the mirror again.

At least I look refreshed even if I don’t feel like it.

In the mirror, I caught sight of a bottle of Jack Daniel’s sitting on the coffee table. It had one shot left in it. It was the only bottle left in my apartment that contained any alcohol. Gordon’s, Captain Morgan, Bacardi, Smirnoff, Jose Cuervo. They were all empty. Gone and well and truly forgotten.

All that remained was the bottle of Jack and a shiny shot glass. The day I pick up that bottle and that glass would be the day I took a step back down the path I swore I would never walk again. I hated myself when I was drunk but only slightly more than when I was sober. At least the time went quicker when I was drunk.

It was the time when I wasn’t working that I hated the most. When I was working, my mind was active and I could take my frustrations out on my surroundings, whether it was an over-zealous arrest or some argumentative banter with Dave and the Captain.

The pain really started when I was unfortunate enough to finish work early and return home with nothing to do, especially when I wasn’t tired enough to immediately pass out when I crashed onto the sofa. That was the point when my sleep needed a helping hand from my good friends Gordon, Jose and Captain Morgan.

I wasn’t the type of drunk to go out on the town, blow all my money and pick a fight. I preferred to sit on the sofa with a bottle in my hand and look at old photos, watch old home movies or just think about the happy times I shared with Sarah and wish we’d had more. Just me, a sofa, a bottle and my memories. Once I started drinking, I could find no reason in the world to stop until Mother Nature sent me off to sleep.

The reason for us not spending more time together was always me. Every time we were going out for dinner or round to friends’ houses, I would get the call. There was yet another killer on the loose and it was always up to me to find them and lock them up. Noble work to be sure, but not conducive to marital bliss.

The friends we used to have had abandoned me long ago. Needless to say they were all Sarah’s friends rather than mine. Of course, they all rallied round after she died and stuck by me for a while but I guess I should be the first to admit that my attitude probably pushed them away rather than drawing them close when I needed them most.

I kept staring at the bottle of Jack. One sip and that was it. No more work. I could start drinking now and kiss goodbye to the next two days.

The devil on my shoulder thought it sounded very tempting.

Pull yourself together, Tom!

I marched over to the drinks cabinet, picked up the bottle and unscrewed the top. I picked up the shot glass and looked at it for a second before throwing it into the metal dustbin by the door. There was a satisfying smash when it hit the bottom. I went back into the bathroom and emptied the last shot of Jack into the sink then smashed the bottle in the dustbin.

Goodbye old life, hello new beginning.

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