Detecting the Echoes

I am not brilliant; my intellect is insufficient to produce remarkable solutions to the hauntingly complex problems that have plagued humankind for millennia. But I think my intelligence is adequate for learning new information at relatively high speed. I do not need remedial instruction to understand the fundamentals of police work; detective work. But, then again, I suppose I would need some form of  instruction. And an age-lift. I would need those adjustments in order to qualify to get on the “fast track” to being a detective for a city police department. When it comes down to brass tacks, though, I am not sure I would be willing to suffer through the long slog of “learning the ropes.” I would much rather be thrown in to the chaos and left to my own devices. Screening in (or out) by virtue of OJT. I suspect I would survive the tests; assign to me a murder of two to solve and give me access to all the facts surrounding the case. Let me determine what more I need to know and how to obtain that knowledge. I would prove myself. Or some poor, innocent stiff would be accused of murder, thanks to my exemplary police work, while I insist that the evidence against him is irrefutable. That scenario is just one reason I long ago renounced my endorsement of the death penalty; I am capable of catastrophic mistakes that could, in the wrong circumstances, lead to irreparable harm. Execution of innocent people…that sort of thing. Despite the difficulties at this late stage, of finding my way onto a police force, I think I would enjoy the investigative work associated with being a police detective. But my romanticized vision of the role refuses to be constrained by bureaucracy.  No mindless paperwork for me. And no mind-numbingly annoying rules; I want and expect absolute freedom to pursue justice. Breaking a few rules here and there is a necessary accompaniment to good investigative work, according to my reality. But, to be clear about it, I am the only one permitted that freedom; all my colleagues will be expected to follow the straight and narrow. I need to be able to rely on their boundless supplies of consistency; investigative work unsullied by creative thoughts and actions. Just another fantasy. One of hundreds. Thousands, perhaps. Maybe millions. But just one of a small number I can reveal publicly and retain my reputation. My reputation? What, exactly, is that? Does everyone have a reputation, or do reputations attach only to people who sometimes color outside the lines?  You never hear a person described like this: “He had a reputation for being deadly dull.” That’s not a reputation; it’s a prelude to a meaningless obituary that describes the deceased person’s utter irrelevance. “He died after long being afflicted with a wretchedly monotonous, thoroughly forgettable, personality. He was tolerated, but not liked. Nor loathed. He was simply “there” as if being “there” was adequate reason for his existence. Hmm. Hmm, indeed.


Yesterday’s visit at my oncologist’s office supplied me with the news I’ve grown accustomed to hearing: neither the blood tests nor the CT scan revealed anything of concern. Though I expected that message, hearing its confirmation was a nice sound. I am never worried about what I might learn during those visits, but I feel a little more relaxed and have a sense of relief when the “good news” visit concludes.


My half-cup of coffee is cold. My back aches from sitting in a wretchedly uncomfortable desk chair. My attention span shows striking signs of exceptional impatience. I have things to do, obligations to fulfill, but no interest whatsoever in taking the steps necessary to complete them. I am in one of those periods in which I relish the idea of disappearing without a trace. No one would notice my absence because all memories of me would disappear. I would then be absolutely free. Free to become a practicing pacifist or a cold-blooded vigilante. Answering to no one; not even myself. Just wild. Untamed and unexplained. Dangerous in the extreme. But somehow attractive while exuding vibes of danger and excitement. More fantasies emerging from ill-defined dissatisfaction. A dissatisfaction rooted in contempt for the world; no single thing, but a flood of single things that twist around others, forming a thick, inescapable cage comprised of thick rope. Rope made from all those twisted single things. I have nothing to complain about; nothing legitimate, anyway. But I will complain, nonetheless. I will howl my complaints in the emptiness of the darkest nights. And the air will send back echoes; no meaning, just noise.


If I am going to face the day, I better begin trying. Now.

About John Swinburn

"Love not what you are but what you may become."― Miguel de Cervantes
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