Doing what I’m about to do is the direct result of something wholly terrible, yet I’m thankful for the chance to be here, because I can help right a wrong, after a fashion.
For now, though, I’m just breathing. No words come to my lips, no emotion on my face. I’m focused, singly, on a slow controlled inhale, and a slow, controlled exhale. My partner is next to me, and she knows me well enough to read the thoughts behind the look on my face. She’s also experienced enough to know that right now, I don’t want to talk, I don’t want her to talk, and if anyone asks me “You doin’ OK, JB?” I’m going to knock their teeth out. Her job, at this moment, is to just be here. That’s why she’s the best partner I’ve ever had as a medic.
I glance at the door, beyond which sits a monster.
He doesn’t look like a monster, of course. The real monsters never do. They look like normal folks. Some tall, some short. Full hair and balding. Square jaw, rounded face. Eyes set narrow to the sun, or thick Coke-bottle eyeglasses. “Just a regular man,” you’d hear.
Except he was no man. He was a monster.
I don’t want to look at him, yet as your eyes are drawn to a car wreck on the other side of the highway, mine will be drawn to his face. This guy is as regular as regular gets. He’s a touch beyond 200 pounds, and tissue that was once muscle has turned soft, the result of too many beers and frozen dinners in front of a T.V. His head sets squarely on his shoulders, though if he had any decency, he’d hang it in shame. The shoulders are broad, and exude a relaxed confidence, as if he knows what’s coming and knows he can weather the storm. A Timex on his right wrist — he’s a lefty, apparently — marks time, and his back is straight. He’s crossed his feet as he sits, relaxed.
Inhale, JB. Now exhale. Repeat.
Yeah, relaxed. After what this monster did, he’s relaxing. He’s relaxed, and I’m a mess of emotions: Anger, grief, curiosity, and perplexity.
And rage. Pure, untempered, primal rage. I want to face him with that rage. To ask him the questions that have burned into my soul since the first moment the dispatch said “Medic 9, Child injured, PD en route as well, RP states father of child is the suspect.”
“You think you got enough salt to try that with me? Go ahead…. do to me what you did to her.
“Go ahead. Try to hold me down and force your fat, smelly, drunk-ass body on me, with your pencil dick and smelly breath. Try to touch me in spots that I don’t want you to touch. Try it. Go ahead, try. I dare you. Nay, I BEG you to try that with me.
“She was 5 years old, and might have weighed 40 pounds. She called you Daddy. A daddy wouldn’t have done this to his little girl. A father would have given his own life to prevent this from happening to his little girl. You’re no daddy, you’re no father. You’re a piece of shit.
“I’m not that small, and I prefer a slightly different term for you than ‘Daddy.’ Go ahead… try that with me. Let’s skip all the rest of this bullshit dog and pony show and get this over with. Don’t bother looking at the cops, they won’t help you. That, I promise. Let’s do this… you, me, and last man breathing walks out of here a free man. Please. Try me.”
That’s what I want to say. That’s what my face, my eyes, and my body language say. But it’s not what my mouth says. I want to say it, but I don’t. I just breathe.
Having processed all these thoughts in the two seconds it took me to open the door and enter the room and glance at him, I remember that, despite my rage, despite my anger, despite my visceral desire to exact some revenge for Molly, am a professional and I have a professional duty to do my job. I take that first step to do what I have to do.
The cop reaches toward me, holding a book, and asks me:
“Do you solemnly swear that the testimony you will give to this court will be the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth, so help you God?”
I give the monster one last glance: OK, pal, let’s see you worm your way out of this one…You should have taken your chances with me, because Ordinary Decent Criminals in prison don’t care much for child molesters. Have fun in there, and I hope you rot in hell.
(*Name changed for the obvious reasons.)