Friday, May 21, 2010

week six: the graveyard shift

When they talk about working the graveyard shift, they don't mean working in a real graveyard. They never do. Well, that's what I got: a real, live graveyard. It's probably about eleven or ten in the morning and the sky's overcast as it rains ever so gently. The crime scene's been tapered off, but there's not much use for it. My partner and I stand over the body, which is no more than a day old. He's been stabbed several times and lies over freshly broken soil. All around are headstones and statues. There's a very noir feeling in the air, like everything's supposed to be in black and white. Only the flowers and the grass have any color, but the gray sky, cemented death markers, and our suits keep the tone bland.

A statue of an angel hangs over us and the rain makes it cry. It's sitting over us like a guardian angel who failed. I've seen too many bodies in my life to shed any tears for this guy, but the angel definitely doesn't help make this any easier. It's kinda distracting just sitting over us, watching our every move. I wish it'd go away, but hell, it's just a statue. Something about this whole thing's got me jumpy.

Questions start piling up in our minds as we look things over, the first of which is simple: who is this guy? Or I should say “was”. Either way, whoever did this took his wallet and anything else that could help us figure out who he was. Somebody must have really had it out for him too. From what I can tell, any one of the stabs would have been enough to kill him. All of them are pretty deep wounds. The blood's almost all gone though, it got washed away in the rain and it's in the mud now. That's another problem. The rain's washed way any hope of finding decent prints.

That leads us to another question, who killed this guy? There's no knife in sight, but we've got men searching the area. For all we know, it could have been anybody. Maybe it was his grandma, maybe it was his wife, or maybe it was his damned dog. Does he even have a wife? There's no ring to tell, it's gone just like the rest of his valuables. This couldn't be a common robbery though. No way would a common thief come out in the middle of a graveyard just to rob a guy.

“Smoke?” my partner asks offering me a cigarette. I take it because somehow puffing on something helps the mood. He gives me a light and I go on with my examination.

The hardest question to answer though, is why. Why was this guy killed? There a lot of reasons you'd want to kill someone and there really aren't any good ones. At least not that I can think of. Then again, why does anyone do anything? You're just gonna die anyway. This guy just got the express ticket out of here. I have to admit, I kinda envy him. I mean, I don't wanna be lying dead at a cemetery with holes in my gut, but I would very much like for all this to be over and done with.

I look around me and I see the symbolism of a dead guy in a graveyard with a crying angel standing over him. This is the kind of stuff you'd put in a movie. That's the movies though, that's where they tell you that stuff actually matters. Movies aren't about what happens, but what you'd like to happen. We'd all like life to mean something, but all I see right now is a dead guy and I've seen so many that it's hard to care. Is there really meaning to it all?

Let's go with this movie thing. If this were a movie, we'd probably find some clue that points us in the right direction, where we'd probably spend the movie chasing down the murderer and looking for clues. It'd be exciting and I'd probably get the girl by the end of it all. I'd hope it'd be Audrey Hepburn, she's a real babe. The audience would get all caught up in the drama, but the last thing they'd think about was just how it wasn't real and that there was no murder and there was no villain. There's no hero either.

Now, let's go back to real life. You get two detectives standing over a wet, mangled corpse who have no idea who the guy is. There is no clue that points in the right direction, Audrey Hepburn is still in Hollywood bangin' her away to fame, and we'll probably never know what happened. There are no heroes and there are no villains, there's just people trying to live out their lives. Yeah, some of us screw up and and do bad stuff, and the rest of us stop 'em. That doesn't make us heroes though, it just makes us people doing their thing. The guy who killed the dead guy here, he was just trying to live his life like the rest of us and then he screwed it up.

My cigarette's done, so I put it down in the mud and stamp it down with my foot. Sure, I just littered and contaminated the crime scene, but I'll forget about in about thirty seconds. It's like this guy. Give it time and no one cares about him all of a sudden. Maybe nobody does already. I don't know. I don't know who he is, I don't know what he did, and I don't really care all that much. There's no reason to because there's no reason to do anything. There is no purpose behind this life that just ends anyway.

My partner tells me it's sad that I think this way, that I'm being fatalistic. Maybe I am. I think I'm just being realistic though. There was a time when I felt sorry for people who think like I do, now I just don't care. I am glad though for the people who think they have a reason and a purpose. Good for them because they're somehow happy in all this.

“I think we've got all we can from here,” my partner says to me as he finished his own cigarette.

“Yeah,” I agree as I sigh. Something in me wants me to find out who did this and bring him to justice. That's why I signed up for all this, but it didn't take me long to figure how the real world works. Some people are just blind to it all, I guess. Good for them though. It's better to be Ray Charles, who can't see a damn thing, but you never see him not smiling, than to be Nietzsche, who saw everything but was miserable.

“Wanna grab lunch?” Asks my partner.

I take one last look at the corpse and then answer, “I could go for a sandwich.”

And that's that. We're off. We don't find a single useable bit of evidence besides the corpse. Maybe the forensics team will find something or another, but I really doubt it. I doubt a lot of things. As we go to the car, I look back again and I see the angel. It doesn't look like she's crying anymore from this distance. It looks like she's perched over the dead guy, giving him some kinda comfort. I hope the last thing I see before I die is an angel too.

I get in the car and then my thoughts turn away from murder and onto the sandwich and the mound of paperwork I've got coming. It's just another day and this is just another death. It happens all the time and I can't figure out why it matters anymore. You can call me bleak, but I'll call you blind.

(A few comments from the writer can be found here)

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