Finding the Words

 “Why don’t we do something?” Taylor peered over the low brick wall. The scene was peaceful to the point of desolation. The normally busy street stood empty, the shop front staring blankly back at the rooky.

“Like what?” Martin sat with his back to the wall. He fished in his pockets.

“I don’t know. Send in the SWAT or something.”

Martin produced a roll of mints. He offered one to his young colleague, who shook his head.

“No, it never ends well, sending in the guns. Last resort, that is. An admission of failure on the part of the police. The press would have a field day. No, we just wait. We got a lot more patience then he has.” He looked up at Taylor. “Well, most of us have. Sit down. All you’re doing is offering him a target.”

Taylor regarded the street for a second longer, then reluctantly joined his colleague.

“What’s it like?” he said.

“Like this, most of the time. Hours of waiting then moments of running. You have to pace yourself, that’s the key. That’s why coppers walk slowly.”

“No, I meant dying. What’s that like?”

Martin remained silent, staring into the middle distance.

“Only some of the lads, they said you were resurrected. Is that true?”

“Yeah, it’s true,” said Martin, quietly.

“Jeez. What happened?”

Martin shrugged. “I died, they resurrected me.”

“How did you die? I mean, was it on the job?”

Martin absently rubbed at his stomach. “Yeah. They don’t normally do it just for fat bastards that eat themselves into a heart attack. Perk of the job. You die in action, they resurrect you. Well, not you. You have to serve your probation out, so don’t go being a hero for two years yet.”

“What happened to you? I mean, how did you die?”

Martin turned to stare at Taylor. After a while he said, “Here’s a little tip for you, son. Just a word to the wise. Lazarus men, we don’t like talking about it. Asking how you died is like asking what position you did it with your wife last night. It’s considered rude, you understand?”

“Sorry.”

“Granted.”

The two men sat in silence for a while. Martin seemed content to just sit and wait. Taylor fidgeted. He turned and risked a peek over the wall again, then sat back down.

“So, what? Do you feel invincible? No, but you must, right? Knowing you can be brought back again, I mean.”

“Do you smoke?” said Martin.

“No.”

“I did. Twenty a day. The craving never stops, you know. So now I suck mints. Sugar-free too, because sugar’s the silent killer. Took extra driving lessons; always wear my seat belt. I check the smoke detector at home every week.” He glanced over his shoulder. “And I keep my head down during sieges.”

“Yeah?” Taylor looked puzzled. Martin sighed.

“What I’m trying to say is, no, I don’t feel invincible. Far from it. So I’m not going to give the grim reaper any free shots. None of us do. It’s a whatsname, isn’t it. A side effect. No one as careful as a Lazarus man.”

“Yeah? Weird. I mean, the side effect. You’d think it would be the other way round.”

Martin crunched the mint in his mouth.

“Well, it’s not.”

“What was it like? When you were dead, I mean. Did you know, or were you just unconscious, sort of thing?”

“Yeah, I knew.”

“Jesus. What was that like? I mean, after, you know. What’s the afterlife like?”

“Indescribable.”

“Indescribable how?”

Martin turned to face Taylor. “You do know what ‘indescribable’ means, don’t you? It means not able to be put into words.”

“Yeah. Still, must be reassuring, knowing something’s there. After, I mean.”

Martin returned to staring into the distance, rubbing the knife scar under his tunic.

“Not really,” he said quietly. “Not really at all.”

“Martin!”

Martin looked over to the cars. The commander who had called gave a jerk of his head towards the shop. Martin nodded.

“Here we go, then. Waiting over. Stay here and keep your bloody head down.”

He stood, shrugging off his tunic.

“What? What’s going on?”

“Time for the real negotiations to start.” Martin unbuckled his equipment belt. “Look after my stuff. He’s agreed to talk to someone.”

Martin walked slowly round the wall and into the middle of the road. Outside the shop he raised his hands and executed a careful pirouette. Then he walked towards the doorway, his pace slow and measured. Taylor stared at the doorway after Martin disappeared, ears straining for the shot. A lifetime later the shop doorway opened again and Martin reappeared. He held aloft a shotgun, which he carefully placed on the ground, then gave a thumbs up and turned to the door. Taylor couldn’t make out his words, but the tone was soft, soothing. A figure emerged, younger even than Taylor. He staggered onto the footpath. Martin wrapped an arm around his shoulders and led him into the middle of the road. He helped the unresisting boy to lie on the ground as other officers ran forward. The robber turned his head, and just before he was surrounded by the SWAT team Taylor saw his face, wet with tears and contorted in anguish.

Martin walked back to the wall, looking both ways as he crossed the street, even though it was cordoned off. He nodded at Taylor and held out his hand for his belt.

“What did you say?” said Taylor. Martin sniffed as he buckled the belt, then reached for his tunic.

“Martin? Jesus, he was a wreck. What did you say to him?”

Martin slowly buttoned his tunic.

“I guess I was able to put it into words after all,” he said.

Advertisements

About snodlander
Snodlander is the nom de plume of Bob Simms. He is an IT trainer, but it's not as glamourous as it sounds. When he's not enthralling classes with adventures through SQL Server, he writes, draws and drinks his own home-brew. Buy his novel on Amazon Kindle at The Young Demon Keeper, It's 74p, for crying out loud!

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: