Gemini in Retrograde
There are some times I hate being a male, being an American male, being an American male cop. Being an American male cop puts you in on the the most macho stereotypes you can think of, and most of the time it's fine, I mean don't get me wrong I like my job, my country and my dick, not planning on changing any of them, what I don't like is the fact that being what I am means it's not acceptable to touch another guy for more than a few seconds, a quick one armed hug is the absolute most physical contact that seems socially acceptable. Why am I thinking about social taboos for American male cops? Because I want to break one.
I'm looking at my best friend as stares down at the dead body of a 'mate', and all I want to do is hold him, I've seen him lose too many 'mates' to violent death, seen the fear in his eyes when I went after that sniper and asked him to protect me, too close that time, too close to losing another of the small group of people that he calls friends, that he's do virtually anything for. Friendship goes deeper with him than anyone else I know, look at some of the things he's done to help me, dangerous things, things that have left Angie somewhere between terrified and seriously pissed off for risking himself but he can't say no, and I take advantage of that I know. I try not to call on him too often, as Angie would be the first to point out I'm the cop, he's a special effects guy, I should be the one solving crimes not him; 'serve and protect' is not part of his job description but... he's good at it, he's smart, he can see things that others can't, I suppose it because he's used to nothing being what it seems. Take this latest little venture of ours: I was certain his friend Jimmy was the accomplice to the serial killer I'd failed to catch years before, after Rollie reluctantly bugged Jimmy's trailer for us we heard Jimmy and David, the killer, arguing after Jimmy left we charged into get David, only to find an empty trailer, while the rest of us were trying to figure out how the killer had escaped Rollie had already realised the truth; there was no David outside Jimmy's mind.
Now Jimmy's dead having thrown himself out of a window to stop his alter-ego David killing Rollie.
Today has been one of the more disturbing days of my life; today I drove a man to kill, watching Jimmy breakdown under our oh-so-clever trickery was horrible, using the image of his abusive mother to try to force the alternate personality to surface was dreadful. I've seen a lot of things I wish I hadn't; I'm a police officer in New York, murders are common, even the more gory murders are something I've seen enough of to be, if not immune to the horror, at least able to detach myself from it enough to let it go, but that after the event, not the scientific mental torture I instigated, it didn't sound too bad in theory, flash the guy a few pictures of his dead mother and watch what happens, the reality was something else and now the guy's dead. The East Side Ripper who haunted Kaitlyn's nightmares was also a scared kid whose mother beat and burnt him 'til he went insane to survive it, and part of him was still a nice guy, one that Rollie Tyler called a friend. And I can't disagree with that even now.
Rollie spends a long moment just staring down at Jimmy's broken body where it has landed on a car parked below. I want to do something, say something to help to take away the grief and the guilt I can see hanging like a shroud around him, but what? Tell him it wasn't his fault? But of course partially it was, his tech, the department psychiatrist's theory and my need to catch the killer all lead us here, it took all of us to create this mess. I can't seem to blame Jimmy, I can blame his mother for starting this sick cycle of violence but she was dead before 'David' made his first Gemini marked kill so what good does that do anyone?
"Come on let's get out of here." I say at last, and Rollie jerks out of what ever thoughts have consumed him. I put a hand on his shoulder and turn him away from the broken window. "He made his choice." I say looking at the long abandoned operating theatre where the 'East Side Ripper' brought his victims, in what I can only assume is the hospital his mother worked in all those years ago.
"What choice did he have?" Asks Rollie with a bitterness I've rarely heard from him. "Kill himself or let you kill him? Some choice!"
"He chose not to kill someone else, not Kaitlyn, not you." I see him think about that then watch him take a deep breath and see the emotion leave his eyes, grief, guilt, anger, everything washed away as he seems to reach some sort of personal limit for displaying emotions publicly. That's another thing I hate about the American male stereotype, it's contagious, he's Australian I've seen him with his fellow countrymen, with his dad, and he's different, demonstrative but with me he's always backing off, like I'll be upset if he touches me for too long, he seems to have a limit of 3 seconds of contact per death-defying escape, which while it gets be more contact than it probably should [death-defying should not be a regular event] it's not enough. I want to comfort him, tell him it's okay to let go not to be the guy with all the answers and no deep feelings, I used to think he and Angie were together and maybe she'd help him through stuff like this but the more I see of them together the more I realise that he won't let her, I think it something to do with her father's death, he feels responsible for her, sees her as a little sister, he watched her grow up but she's still Mannie's little girl to him, someone to look after not to be looked after by no matter how much she obviously wants more from him, poor Angie seems to have done everything short of waving a banner reading 'I want to be more than friends' but Rollie just doesn't seem to notice her. He usually notices everything it sometimes makes me wonder why he has such a blind spot with her.
We wend out way downstairs through the forensics team working their way up the building to make sure Jimmy/David really was the killer, through the paramedics taking care of a shocky Kaitlyn and Francis's electrical burns and the coroner's team waiting to take Jimmy's body away. He doesn't look at the body again and I'm glad, bad enough he'll have the image of Jimmy's dive through the window and the distant shape of his crumpled body playing in his mind for quite a while without adding the details of the mess falling several storeys makes of a person. He heads for the passenger side of my car and settles in before he seems to remember Angie who's probably going frantic back at Jimmy's apartment along side the dept. shrink, he replaces the headset he took off before going in to try and talk Jimmy round and calls her. I listen to the one-sided conversation
"I'm OK, so's Leo, Jimmy... Jimmy's dead, Kaitlyn's alright we got here in time"
"Oh you'd heard, yeah I guess they tell her..." The police psychiatrist who Angie had stayed behind with I suppose.
"Where are you now?"
"...OK I'll get Leo to drop me back at mine then"
"You go home and rest, you hear?"
"I'm fine don't worry about me."
And with this he actually pulls the headset off, there are days when I'm sure he sleeps wearing that thing, Rollie Tyler, always has to know what's happening, control it, direct it but this time it didn't end like he planned and he's hurting, emotionally and physically.
When Kaitlyn started screaming for me to hurry I knew that it could only mean one thing, 'David' was going after Rollie leaving her free to scream for help, and as she grew more frantic I knew Rollie wasn't winning, Rollie's no fighter, he's strong enough but if he doesn't manage to surprise who ever he looses practically every time. When we finally got the power switched away from the doors and arrived to see a knife at Rollie's throat... I was terrified that he'd end up dead in front of my eyes but at least he was still alive even if I could see he was bleeding from that oversized knife 'David' was waving about. Then some of the frantic chatter Rollie was keeping up finally got through but not in the way he wanted and now here we are: Rollie, Kaitlyn and me alive, Jimmy dead and while I'm not too unhappy with that I know Rollie isn't alright at all.
I take him home in silence, his usual chatter about anything and everything notable by it's absence. Back at the loft Blue greets his master with his usual electronic enthusiasm, it crosses my mind that the time he must have spent programming that thing to act so much like a living creature is indicative of how lonely the loft must be at times, the six legged robot careful designed to provide an illusion of companionship. Rollie takes off his jacket and reaches into one of the innumerable racks of unidentifiable-to-the-layman bits and pieces to produce a first aid kit and starts to attend to the 'scratch' on his arm where he must not have dodged fast enough, self-sufficient as always he's soon got antiseptic, gauze and bandage wrapped round his forearm but I can see he's struggling to pin the end down so I take the tape and finish the job for him.
"Cheers" he says quietly
"Hey you wanna beer or something?"
"Yeah, I'll get 'em, the fridge is about the one thing I'm sure I recognise round here." I say glancing round at the eclectic mixture of rubber movie monsters and high-tech components that fill the space. I grab the beers out the fridge and open them before dropping down on the couch next to Rollie. As we sit there quietly absorbing alcohol I try to think of something to say but nothing comes to mind. He's hurting, time fades if not heals all wounds but tonight he's hurt, part of me's amazed I here, that he wants my company still.
Several beers later he finally speaks "I just wish..."
"Yeah me too."
"Thanks" It's nice to know we know each other well enough to communicate with just a few words the myriad regrets we both have about what went down tonight. That seems to be enough for Rollie to start to think of other things, he glances at the row of empty bottles lined up on the floor beside me and I can see him doing a few calculations before asking if I want him to call me a cab or find me a pillow. I'm too comfortable and mellow by this point to more than briefly consider leaving to go to my empty, bland apartment. "Pillow, if you're sure you want a drunken cop cluttering up the place?" I reply.
"Some of my favourite people are drunken cops" he says as he heads up stairs into the more domestic section of the former brewery in search of the promised bedding. I wish for a second I had an invitation to follow him up those stairs, follow all the way to his bed in fact before I forcibly shut down that train of thought. He's my best friend, and he's straight, someone once told me you don't fuck around with gay women or straight men, it only leads to trouble, I've reminded myself of that a few time lately, sometimes it helps.
Soon I'm stretched out on the lounge area sofa with the bedding Rollie's brought me and the day I've had and the alcohol in my system mean I'm pretty much out as soon as my head hits the pillow. I'll sleep near him and tell myself its' enough, and for now it will have to be. Maybe one day I'll find the courage to risk his friendship in a gamble for more but not today.