Cold, calculating, and precise. That's what they teach you to be in Police Academy. Never, under any circumstance, are you ever allowed to show weakness.
And according to Police Academy, weakness equals every emotion, unless of course you were mad as hell, booking some criminal.
So it's a wonder that I kept my job for twenty-seven years. I was considered a lousy officer by nearly everyone on the force. My voice would break when I broke heartbreaking news to the victim's families. I felt rage and disgust when I put away some sick criminal, when I should feel nothing at all. And I remember not one time, examining a body or hearing the victim's story, where I didn't go home crying at one point. Every stinking time. I did pretty much everything they told me not to.
But above all, they would say. Never- there were a lot of "never's" on the force- Get attached to your prisoners.
Falling in love with one of your most dangerous teenage hoodlums probably counted as "getting attached."
I never meant to fall in love with him; I don't think I meant to fall in love with anyone. But when I was nineteen, my older brother Paul started dating a hairdresser- Jamie. After three weeks, Jamie broke up with Paul for me, and eleven months later, we became Mr. and Mrs. Benjamin Brand.
I loved Jamie as best anyone could. We were best friends…but that was about it. She was more like a friend or a sister than a lover or a wife. That's why when I found sixteen-year-old Dallas Winston in the back of my cruiser, I was immediately taken with him.
Taken with his looks? No- he wasn't particularly handsome. Taken with his charm? Actually… he wasn't really charming, either. But he could be, when he wanted to.
Taken with what, then?
I'm still trying to figure that out, years later, if I really loved him, or it was more lust and infatuation than anything; but somehow, I don't think it was. I'm pretty sure I loved Dallas. But it was defiantly one-sided.
Like I said before, I never meant to fall in love with the boy. But it was completely instant. I mean the first time I saw him, instant.
I remember the first time I saw him, actually. I was young, fresh out of police academy. It was one of my first arrests, you know, nothing too big or too serious. Some kid, the operator said, had broken some windows at Will Rogers High. A break from the norm, mind you. There'd been nothing but bad news in Tulsa for a while. Like a few weeks before, I had to tell three boys-teenagers- that their parents had died in a car accident. I swear I will never forget the oldest brother's eyes…
Back at Will Rogers, my fellow officer and I put the kid in handcuffs, and he was in the back of the police car while I was driving to the station when my partner, Adam, and I started questioning him.
"All right, son, name?" Adam asked.
The kid snorted. "What's that, sir? You don't remember me? I'm hurt, man, really hurt."
"Cut the crap, Winston." Adam sounded irritated. "Standard procedure. Name."
"Dallas Winston, don't wear it out, boys."
I grinned at Adam. "Got a smart-ass, don't we?"
He groaned and sat back in his seat. "'Smart-ass' doesn't cover the half of it."
I looked at front view mirror so I could see the Great Dallas Winston. But when I did…I swear I don't think I had never seen eyes that blue…
"So you know what you're in for, then?" I asked him. And every time, he would give me some stupid, sarcastic answer.
"Well, it ain't because the windows are broken, now would it…" Dallas said, mocking me.
I continued on, ignoring the sarcasm. "Yes, actually, that's why. Do you have anything to say for yourself, son?"
Nothing. He just looked at me, smug as could be. I learned fairly quickly that this wasn't Mr. Winston's first run-in with the law, and guilt didn't fly with him.
"You don't have anything to say on defense of yourself, then?"
He didn't blink an eye. "Nope."
Adam turned around in his passenger seat again. "You're sure it was you, Winston? It wasn't Shepard or that Mathews kid?" When I looked at him out of the corner of my eye, Adam clarified, "Delinquents like him."I nodded in understanding.
"I told you, it was me, alright? Just shut up about it." Dallas looked bored. I was a tad upset with him for speaking like that to us, but Adam let it go, and so did I. The rest of the ten-minute drive was completely silent. Once we got to the station, Adam led Dallas out of the cruiser. "He's one hell of a kid, ain't he?"
I stayed in the driver's seat, and sighed to myself. "'One hell of a kid' doesn't cover the half of it."
Jump ahead a year or so later. I was on guard duty at the holding cell at the station. Dallas was in again- this time for attempted robbery- and as usual, when he was in, I was secretly thrilled.
I didn't do anything with him, ever. Aside from some little "thing"- if you can call it that- Dallas was always completely ignorant about me.
"All right, kid, you're out of here today." I unlocked Winston's cell, and he walked out smirking.
"It won't be long."
I shook my head. "Not if you stop getting' arrested, it won't."
Dallas looked doubtful, "Give it a few weeks."
I forced back a laugh. "Well then stop breaking the law."
"Well then stop arresting me." He shot back.
"Dallas…" I sighed. "The things you're doing are illegal. Arresting you is my job; it's what I'm supposed to."
"If you don't get caught, it ain't illegal." He reasoned. I stopped talking immediately; there was no point going back and forth with him.
Of course, he wasted no time getting out as quickly as possible. No one else was around, and when we reached the door, Dallas put his face so close to my neck, I could feel him breathing. (And it was by no means faintly)
"Like I said, see ya in a few weeks." He whispered. I was torn between anger, shame, and delight. So torn, I couldn't move.
Then, Dallas put his hands on my chest, and I knew instantly he was trying and playing games with my mind.
And I wanted more of it.
But instead, Dallas put his lips on my cheek- not kissing, exactly, but close- and I was completely mesmerized. Dallas was in total control, and he knew it.
It was then that Dallas pushed me away, and walked towards the door, and hollered, "You queer!" He would never acknowledge me like that again, and I had never been happier.
And then, about a year later, I killed him.
We got a call from one of the operators, Rita. It was extremley late at night, sometime in the fall. Some kid had tried to rob a gas station, and was running to the park. To be perfectly honest, I hadn't even thought it was Dallas Winston. The Shepard gang pulled these kinds of things all the time- we'd sort it all out soon enough.
As usual, I was wrong.
We drove to the park, clutching at our guns that were placed firmly at our belts. All five of us saw the boy running- and it was Dallas.
Right away, Sgt. Short barked at us, "Shoot him down!"
My insides just went frozen. "What?"
"You heard me' hurry up, he's gonna get away!"
"But Sarge!" I tried not to get desperate. "He's just a kid…you don't need to kill him!"
"Ben, shut the fuck up!" he yelled. "Pull the trigger, or hand in your badge!"
I couldn't lose my job, I just couldn't. Linda told me only yesterday she thought she was pregnant. I needed her, I needed the money…I needed him.
These thoughts were barely finished as I pulled the trigger.
His friends running towards his dead body, staring at the smoking gun in my hand, going home that night, lying next to Linda that night…it was all a giant blur. He was dead; I know I never would've gotten him anyway- but I'd rather admire him from a distance. Anything but this.
I only cried once over it. Never before, never again. It was 1968- I was playing with Sally, our little girl, and Linda was making dinner. We were playing the new Beatles album that had come out the day before. I didn't find anything special about it- Jamie was the Beatles fan around here, I was perfectly happy with my old Sinatra records- until a song came on called "Happiness is a Warm Gun." Until then, I had purposely avoided thinking about that night in the park, but the lyrics brought me back before I could- or even wanted to- do anything about it.
"I need a fix, cause I'm going down…" I remembered all the nights where I would come home after seeing Dallas, desperately wanting, desperately needing, desperately begging, desperately wanting, desperately hopping for wild and crazy sex with Jamie. She always gave it to me, and mostly let me do whatever I wanted to her. Jamie Davidson-Brand was my bitch, but I wanted to be Dallas Winston's bitch.
"Mother Superior jump the gun…" No longer was I in bed with my wife, but even farther back in time, back to Police Academy. Training to use a gun, a trigger-happy young cadet. Then, a short while later, being allowed to pull out the gun when under threat. I wasn't a violent man, really, but it was certainly an adrenaline rush for anyone.
"Happiness is a warm gun… (Bang, bang, shoot, shoot…)" Where was I now? I was now? I was sitting at my kitchen table, staring into the air, tears dripping down. Dinner was over; Jamie was giving Sally a bath. The rest of the world flowed on. Only Dallas and I stayed behind, frozen in our-no…my past. He would always be frozen in time. Dallas Winston was dead. He didn't have a choice.
I did. So what was my excuse?