I wanted to say no. I tried to say no, but nobody
listened. They gave the speech about me being the perfect
type - no permanent partner, commendations in my past, the right
attitude. Didn't take a genius to figure out they meant
that my wife left me, other cops wouldn't work with me because of
my attitude, but more than anything, when the chips were down,
I'd do the right thing. Give myself up for the job - take
the bullet - because I didn't care.
They were right.
I didn't care. Not about Stanley Kowalski, or his shitty,
unattached, no wife, no partner, no fucking life existence.
Every single morning I had to force myself out of bed. Had
to find a reason to breathe for another 24 hours. To not
drive my car into a brick wall, or take a few too many of the
happy pills the department shrink gave me. Any reason to not lay
down my gun during a firefight and just stand.
You know why I didn't? Cause it woulda made Stella
cry. Christ, she rips my fucking heart out and I don't want
her to be sad. I was so screwed in the head. I
knew it and still I said no. And I kept on saying it.
Until my badge was on the line and I couldn't even hear them
talking anymore, just watched them move their piranha mouths
while I choked back the bile and wondered what gunpowder tasted
And then they brought out the photos.
There are four of them spread across the desk. I take my
first look at the man they want me to become and I'm not
impressed. They aren't great photos, dark and kinda grainy, and
each one is taken seconds after he's turned his head. To
tell the truth, I doubt if I'd be able to recognize him if he
walked up to me on the street and bummed some change.
In the first, Vecchio's hands are blurred, stuck in mid gesture,
clothes rippling about his lanky frame as he presses his point
home. His mouth is open and his eyes caught at half-mast,
blinking. Makes him look drunk. He's motion-filled in a
motionless frame. Next to him, stiller than the photo could
account for, is the Mountie. Fraser. Hands behind his back,
head tilted just so, absolutely centered on the words coming from
the cop. He's taking in every single word and motion, turning it
around and around in his head until he satisfied with its
In the second, a frown mars the Mountie's face, slight crease
between the brows. He's looking directly at the camera, and
it's only then I realize that he didn't know they were being
photographed. His eyes are blue and there's a flash of
something in them. Anger? Maybe - it's hard to tell.
But at what? Being photographed? At Vecchio?
No, Vecchio's still there, yelling at someone off camera,
pointing an elegantly shaped hand at whoever's on the receiving
end of his bellow. Shit, he's got a huge schnoz.
The third is out of focus and off kilter, the Mountie holding
Ray's arm, while Vecchio starts towards the camera. It's
obviously been taken on the run, the photographer's survival
instincts kicking in. It's a good thing the Mountie's there
to hold him back.
I take a look at the last photo and realize that they're out of
order. This one comes right after the first shot, before
the photographer is discovered and I realize that Fraser wasn't
restraining Vecchio before. He's drawing his attention to their
voyeur. Cause the Mountie wasn't angry.
He was afraid.
Vecchio is looking down at a file, lost somewhere between this
photo and the next, flipping through the papers. It looks
like the other photos, two men standing together, discussing a
case, sharing a moment in the middle of a busy day, except for
one thing. The Mountie. He's staring at Vecchio's
bent head with this look. Utter absolute love. Like
the only thing that exists in the world is this man standing next
to him. His eyes are half closed and he leaning
forward. Breathing Vecchio in. Worshipping him.
And somebody caught it on film, bought an 8 x 10 and a few
wallets, and cracked the moment open like it was nothing special.
The funny thing is, nobody sees it but me. Not even
Vecchio. I mean, if he knew, how could he leave? How
could he walk away from something like that? But you know
what? It's easy. Stella did it. Walked away without
ever looking back and left me for dead.
But I knew it was gonna happen. Fraser doesn't even have a
clue Vecchio's leaving. They tell me they'll let him in on
the gig when he returns from Canada. Christ, he doesn't deserve
this and there's nothing I can do.
Except say yes.