Don’t be dead. Please don’t be dead. Fuck. Jason Ramirez felt cold sweat ooze from his pores as he watched the man stop coughing and his eyes start glazing over. He frantically listened for breathing and felt for a pulse, his hands trembling. No wind in the sails and pulse weak, fading. Fuck. Jason had killed in Fallujah, but always intentionally and from a distance. This…this was entirely…fucked.
His partner Rich pressed the radio button down and stood there, mouth open. Godamnit! Rich! Rich’s eyes and mind began swimming back towards the surface of the grave present moment. Call it the fuck in! Rich’s lips began moving, but Jason couldn’t hear him. All he could hear was that pulse, which weakened by the second. The man’s eyes posed a thousand questions before they had rolled backwards, questions now echoing on repeat through Jason’s head.
Why did you have to kill me? He didn’t.
Jason knew this stronger than he knew the ground he was kneeling on over this guy. But shit, he shouldn’t have… Why did he… Godamnit!!! Jason screamed. He couldn’t stop it. A crowd was forming. Rich was becoming more useful. Back up! Stay back! I won’t say it again! He put a palm in an over-zealous onlooker’s chest. Put that camera away! The wait for the ambulance was the longest of Jason’s life as the blue and red flashed on his pale face, minutes melted into months.
This is how Officer (technically Corporal) Ramirez earned his paid leave from the Cleveland Police Department. He beat a man to death. It was an accident, but he couldn’t see it that way. His supervisor had to take his service weapon away from him because he was nervous it might end up in his mouth in the next few days. Jason sat listlessly, waiting for the counselor to see him. He had chewed his nicotine gum until his jaw was sore.