I am a cop, and I am a woman. That shouldn’t be a big deal nowadays, but unfortunately, I am a small town cop, and a Sheriff’s daughter. I worked my ass off to get where I am today, and I am proud. I wasn’t given any special favours, in fact I was pushed harder by my father than any of the others.
I’m very strict when it comes to my job, I don’t take any bullshit from the general public or from my fellow officers. To say I’m not liked wouldn’t be an understatement. But then again, I don’t do my job to be liked, I do it to uphold the law and keep the peace. It’s very rare that people show any sort of affection to someone telling them how to behave, and punishing the ones who do not listen. To be honest, I don’t want to be liked, I want to be respected; just like my father is.
There are three officers, including me, that are stationed in our small town. We rarely need more. And when we do, there are three neighbouring towns who we can call on to bolster our numbers.
When calls come in it’s usually me out on my own responding, or Eric and John going together. You’d expect being men, they wouldn’t want a woman to investigate a domestic abuse call on her own. But I’ve been told on many occasions, feminism says a woman can take care of themselves as well as a man. Their level of ignorance is astonishing, even for this backwater state.
My account begins with John and Eric entering through the station’s double doors, laughing with each other to some joke I was’nt privy to.
“What’s so funny?” I asked, putting my latest report into the inbox of our female, in my opinion, underdressed receptionist.
“Hey, honey,” John announced smiling.
He wasn’t directing it to me, he was directing it to the cleavage of our under-qualified receptionist. When my dad hired her, I protested, but he said the place could do with some decor. I scowled at him and asked what’s wrong with plants. He looked at me incredulously, with a face that said, *you just don’t understand.*
“What is that?” I asked John.
The two of them glanced at each other and smirked, “It’s a bag of Charlie… blow… Sleeping Beauty’s perk me up,” he said sarcastically, “it’s a bag of coke.”
He threw it at Alice, who saw it too late; hands flapping, the bag then hit her in the nose before coming to rest on the desk in front of her.
“Sorry, sweetheart,” he said with no real remorse.
“Where’s the suspect?” I asked.
“What suspect?” Eric said, bemused.
“Whose fucking coke is this?”
“Whoa, what’s with the hostile language?”
“Whose is it, and why aren’t they here?”
“Mrs Radzinski’s kid, Joel,” we let him off with a warning.
“Jesus, Eric, this is cocaine, not weed or alcohol; go back out there and bring him in now!” I demanded, “and get that bag into evidence. Jesus!”
“And what gives you the authority to tell me how to do my job?” Eric said, approaching me aggressively.
“Just do it,” I heard from a voice behind me, it was my father.
I turned and smiled. He rolled his eyes and re-entered his office, closing the door softly behind him.
The atmosphere in the room had changed, just like in a classroom after the teacher had shouted at their students. Eric whipped the bag off the desk and with his partner, returned to the double doors, bursting through and left.
It was 17:30 precisely when I signed myself into the evidence room, taking the unlicensed firearm I had found earlier in the abandoned car of Alex Jones. We had the call around 13:50, a woman from out of town saw the car on the side of the road, driver’s door open. Drops of blood led away from the car and into the brush.
I arranged for a dog team to come out, but this wouldn’t be for at least two days. And like how this goes most of the time, the dogs will pick up something, but not for long, another case put in the filing cabinet, and there it will stay until a body is found, or if we are lucky, an anonymous tip will come in. It’s usually drug related, which means it’s a lot harder to find a perp, as with drugs, the victim’s interactions have been purposely hidden. When something like this happens, we have nowhere else to look.
I thought about this as I put the clear evidence bag into a new cardboard box, writing the case name on the front.
I returned to the cage door to sign out when something caught my interest. Neither Eric or John had signed in today. Checking the list, only I had been in here. I made my way over to the safe on the other side of the room. Remembering the actions I’d performed so many times before, I heard it click.
The shelves inside were filled with white powders, and small bags of weed. Some waiting to be tested, some just here as proof someone had committed a crime. The bottom shelf contained confiscated coke, enough to support a moderately famous rock band on an east coast tour. But still, the bag from this morning was not present.
I signed myself out and locked up behind me. The other officers had already left, our *bubbly* receptionist was redirecting the phones for out of hour emergencies.
“Are you leaving?” I asked.
“Not just yet, the Sheriff wants me to do some paperwork before I go.”
*I’m sure he does*, I thought to myself, thinking of my mother, his wife, at home preparing dinner.
My father stood in his doorway, hands on his hips, with a look that said he was in command.
“Good day’s work today, girls,” he said, before clapping his hands together and rubbing them.
“Sheriff?” I said, “Can I have a word?”
“Sure you can honey, but be quick. There’s some paperwork I need to do with Alice.”
An anger, or was it jealousy, grew inside me, but I forced it back down, as I’d done all day and every day I worked here.
“I won’t be long.”
I moved past him into his office.
“What is it?” he asked, sitting in his chair, placing his feet on the desk.
“It’s Eric and John.”
My father interrupted me before I could finish.
“Look, you knew what it was going to be like, it’s a man’s place, police work, but I am really proud of you, you hold yourself well.”
I frowned, “It’s not that Dad. I don’t care what those little shits say or do, it’s the drugs. They didn’t book it into evidence.”
“Oh really?” my father responded.
“Yeah, no-one has been in the evidence locker today apart from me.”
“Well, I’m sure it’s just a misunderstanding, I’ll talk to them in the morning.”
“No, don’t; they will know it was me. They’ll know I told you.”
“I’ll sort it, you’re my daughter, I’ll make sure nothing comes of it. Now go on home.”
I left for the door.
“Tell Alice to come in now,” he said.
I closed the door behind me.
“Goodnight Alice, the Sheriff says you’re not needed tonight.”
She appeared confused. She picked up her handbag following me out.
I started the car. I watched as my dad ran to the front of the office to see our receptionist turn out of the car park and into the flow of traffic. He held his hand to his face to shield the sun, before shaking his head and re-entering the station.
I returned to work with a peace offering of doughnuts. I know it’s cliche, but who can say no to doughnuts? I placed them on the reception desk and retired to my room. As soon as I sat, the door reverberated with the violent knocking.
“Come in,” I said.
The Sheriff entered, silently he beckoned me with a finger.
I got up and followed him out. I saw John and Eric picking out the sugary treats from the box, sitting on either side of our receptionist’s desk. They glared at me in unison.
My father opened the door to the evidence room and tapped his hand on the register.
“I thought you said they hadn’t been in here?”
I read the line under mine, 17:45 Eric had signed in and 17:55 he’d signed out.
“Hey, that was after me, they were already gone. That’s crap! They must have filled that out this morning.”
“Look at me, you may be my daughter, but that doesn’t mean you get any special treatment. And what you pulled with Alice last night. There’s lots of paperwork I need to now do today because of that.”
“Pfft,” I said, exhaling sarcastically, “Yeah, I’m sure you need *her* to help you with paperwork.”
“You are on a verbal warning, I cannot have insolence from any of my employees and that includes you.”
I stormed over to the safe and opened it. The bag was there, and I’d swear it wasn’t as full as it was yesterday when I saw it bounce off Alice’s big nose. Looking closer, the other bags, they looked light as well.
“See, it’s there,” my father confirmed.
“But Dad, look, it’s light, these others look that way too.”
He waved his finger at me, “Do not call me *dad* when we are on duty, I am Sheriff Ward in these walls.”
“Sorry, Sir, but look.”
“What? I see the contraband that Eric has signed in.”
“There’s nowhere near as much as there should be, and look at the other bags. Someone has been stealing from evidence.”
“Are you accusing Eric of stealing drugs from evidence? That is a serious accusation!” he said, getting angry.
“Please, Sheriff, just…” I trailed off.
I slammed the safe shut and span the knob. I pushed past my father.
“Hey! Sorry, it’s not easy being your father and your boss. Are you sure it was Eric?”
“Eric or John, one of them, or both.”
“Are you happy to put your job on the line for that?”
I shook my head, wishing for just this once he’d take my side.
“It’s my job to uphold the law, whether the criminals are out there, or in here. I’m not in this job to make friends.”
I left the evidence locker.
“Are you okay? You look like you’ve seen a ghost?” John asked eyeballing me.
“Stop busting my balls,” I said annoyed, pushing my shoulder into his.
“See, I told you she had a dick,” John blurted out.
“Fuck you, and fuck you,” I replied not looking at them.
Frustrated I headed for the toilet.
I splashed water on my face, and for the first time, contemplated my job. I was always told by my teachers, my mother and surprisingly, my father, that I could be whomever I wanted to be if I applied myself. I had done that, and I had done what no other woman in my town had done; I had become a police officer. In the mirror the face that stared back at me was tired and red. I’d not been aware of the lines that sketched my face before, defining my hard features. I wasn’t the young woman who joined the police force, now I was jaded. But even with my despondent features, there was a hope buried under there; a grit and determination to do my job, and to do it well. But with Laurel and Hardy out there, my job was made so much harder. And my father, wanting to stay impartial…
I slapped myself once, then again, then again. I bit down on my teeth and promised myself I’d do the best I could for me and for this county. I pulled a couple of paper towels out of the machine and dried my face.
I entered the hallway and before I knew it my face was plunged into the wall in front of me. Disorientated with stars in front of my eyes, I struggled. I felt a warm sweaty breath on the nap of my neck.
“The Sheriff’s daughter, a rat,” the voice behind me announced.
I heard him sigh.
“I don’t know what it is with you, why can’t you just keep your fucking mouth shut. Just because your daddy runs this place, you think you can just do what you like,” he continued, pushing his body against mine.
My breathing quickened, my head held to the side so I couldn’t see my assailant.
“You’ve been stealing evidence, drugs.”
“Why do you fucking care?” he asked suspiciously.
“It’s the law, it’s a felony, you’ll be put away for twenty years.”
“Look at you, little law enforcement girl. You know the only reason why you have this job?”
“Let go of me.”
“Where would the fun be in that?”
That’s when I felt the cold barrel of a gun rest against my temple. I trembled.
“What are you going to do, shoot me?”
“And what if I did?”
“The bullet will be traced back to your gun, and on top of the felony evidence theft, you’d be looking at first degree murder.”
My head jolted back as the man pulled my hair. A small revolver appeared in my vision.
“Not this gun, this is untraceable.”
My tear filled eyes squinted, recognising the gun I’d boxed away yesterday.
“That’s evidence!” I shouted.
“It was, until you booked it out yourself, five minutes ago.”
My heart raced, they were going to set me up.
I felt a hand slowly work it’s way up my leg, the humid breathing on my neck increasing its intensity.
“No, Eric, don’t do that!” I heard from behind me.
“Don’t tell me what to do!”
John howled. The gun struck his nose and his tight grip was lost.
I turned to see the two officers eye each other up. Taking my opportunity I ran out of the hallway and into the main office. I headed straight for the double doors and to the outside.
“There is a call on line one, Mrs Radzinski says her kid is smashing up the place.”
“Not now Alice,” I said, sliding past the desks and out of the station.
I jumped in my patrol car and skidded out of the car park. The car lurched from side to side as my adrenaline soaked brain tried to get control of the vehicle. I switched on the emergency lights and accelerated.
Vehicles slowed and turned onto the verges, parting the way like Moses parting the red sea. My breathing was out of control and I continued to speed up. Anger consumed me and I reacted to it by abusing the gas peddle.
I swerved in and out of traffic as I left the town. The road widened, trees and foliage flanked the tarmac. I calmed as did the density of cars. I played the incident that just happened over and over in my head. For the first time in my life I was scared.
I exited the main road, onto the dirt track, slowing down. My heart still beat heavy in my chest. I turned into my driveway and parked. The radio burst into action.
We have a 10-15 at 1024 Palm Meadow Drive.
Copy that, I heard John’s familiar voice reply.
In the house I went to the kitchen and opened the cupboard under the sink. I took out the box and placed it on the kitchen table. Removing an evidence bag from my coat, I carefully poured the powder into it. I replaced the box back under the sink.
I started the car and waited. Exhausted, I tried to relax. But my life had changed irrevocably.
I reversed the patrol car out into the road and calmly travelled to the center of town.
I pulled into a space in front of Bill’s.
“Look, I thought we had sorted out our little issue, Eric was in yesterday, he said there was no further action,” the bartender said defensively.
“I’m not here for that, just get me a whiskey.”
The man calmed down, sliding a glass over to me.
“It’s on the house,” he announced.
I held the glass up as thanks and sipped the drink, the liquid burning as it started its journey down.
I sighed and contemplated what I was going to do next. I realised my mind was already made up. I was not doing this for me, I was doing this for my father.
Five minutes later, I’d finished the drink.
“Thanks, Todd, see you again soon.”
“I hope you are not on duty Miss,” he said genuinely concerned.
“Just stop serving underaged kids and we won’t have a problem; it won’t be a slap on the wrist next time.”
I drove back to the station in a welcomed calm. I was not sure whether it was the alcohol or my plan that made me relaxed. I knew what I was going to do and I was okay with that.
I was relieved when I pulled into the station to see that Eric’s patrol car was missing. It was now or never.
“Where did you go?” Alice asked, as I pushed the double doors open.
“Shut up,” I responded, walking straight past her and towards the evidence room.
I opened the door and made a bee-line to the safe. The evidence bags were still there, like they were this morning. I allowed myself a final glance behind me, then took the bag out of my pocket and proceeded to open the packets in the safe. Carefully I poured an amount of the white powder I had taken from my kitchen into each of them, careful not to spill any. I resealed them and closed the safe.
As I approached to exit the room, I glanced the register. I saw my name written with a poor impression of my handwriting. I ignored it and left.
“I’m leaving early today, Alice, if anyone calls for me, tell them I’ll phone them back tomorrow.”
“Okay,” she said, hen-pecking at her keyboard, trying her best not to break a nail, “Your Dad said you should see him as soon as you came back.”
“Tell him, not today, I’ll speak with him tomorrow.”
“But, he said it was urgent,” she replied.
“Not today; tomorrow!”
I got back in my car and left, heading straight for home.
I lay in bed that night, not able to sleep. Knowing what I had done, but knowing what I did was right. It’s ironic, at no point in my life had I ever thought I’d do something that would be *twisting* the law, never mind breaking the law. But justice is a subjective word; that’s what I’d learnt from my time being a cop. I had to be there for the public, for my dad, for the sheriff. When I saw my face in the mirror today, I knew why I became a police officer. What happens to me is incidental. It wasn’t my job to be a vigilante. It was my job to keep the peace. However, sometimes you need to do what’s *right*, you know? I fell asleep thinking about this.
I woke at 05:00. I was shattered and agitated. I felt anxious. I left the bedroom and ran a cold shower. The frigid water did little to shift the feeling in my stomach, the feeling I did something wrong; but the ball was in motion now, there was no turning back.
I dried and clothed myself in a fresh uniform. Picking up my phone, I saw that I had a missed call; the voicemail icon flashing in the corner.
Holding the phone to my ear I listened.
Officer Ward, please make your way to the station as soon as you can, we have a 10-00.
I breathed deep, the scenario I had prepared for was now in action.
I drove slow, conditioning my mind for what was in store, practising my shocked face and response.
Oh my god, what happened?
No, please tell me he didn’t… no, please no.
I quivered my lips, a tear rolled from my eye, genuinely surprised that I could do this on command.
There are two ambulances out in the car park when I arrived; one for each of them. I saw Eric and John’s patrol car in their spot, probably from the night before. I was happy, but still nervous.
I entered the station and was taken aback. Eric and John were there talking to separate officers from out of town. Confused I shout, “Hello? I had a call saying officer down? What’s going on?”
I saw yellow incident tape cocoon my father’s office. I sped up into a run.
“Miss Ward is it?” a female cop asked me.
“Yeah,” I said confused, “What’s happened?”
I pushed past.
“You don’t want to go in there,” she said, holding me back.
I violently slapped her hand and broke the tape. The door to my father’s office was open.
I fell to my knees when I saw the scene.
My father was slumped in his chair, blood and bile coated his mouth and chest. Alice lay on the floor, half naked, also covered in crusted blood and sick. A bottle of champagne sat on the desk, next to two half drunk flutes.
“I’m sorry, Miss Ward. It appears your father has been poisoned.”
She held up an evidence bag of white powder.
“It appears he’d taken this out of evidence. We think it was cut with something dangerous. We’ll need to wait for toxicology, but if I were to guess, I’d say it was rat poison. The officers out there are pulling the security footage from the evidence room. They said there was a problem with the recordings from the last couple of weeks, but they were able to pull yesterday’s.”
“I think I’m going to be sick,” I said, leaving the room.
“Take your time Miss, again I am truly sorry. I knew your father, and he was a great man. We’ll do our best to keep this out of the press, but something this big, you know…” she trailed off.
I got in my patrol car and slammed my hands on the steering wheel. To my right I see those two hyenas, they wave at me. They know what I’ve done, they’ve seen the footage, they know it was meant for them.
This is my confession and I accept the punishment to the full extent of the law.