These things always go differently than you imagine.
I’ve gotten years of training on how to be a police officer. From my time in the Academy, to my probation period with a Training Officer, to the constant on-the-job training of day-to-day work as a cop. You practice your skills, sharpening them to a point where they feel natural, organic, and secondhand. You read after action reports, taking in what happened to other cops, and trying to figure out what went wrong and why. And most of all, you learn to assess situations for potential outcomes, to see into the future and imagine any possible way the scene might turn violent.
You imagine what could happen and you plan for that day it does. But the truth is, as much as you plan, real life has a way of throwing curveballs.
See, in real life, things aren’t as clear cut. Situations arise suddenly, without warning – they’re not black and white with obvious good guys and bad guys. Instead, you’re spending your time trying to figure out what’s going on, rather than how to take them down. Because you don’t know who it is you’re supposed to take down. And it’s that hesitation, that moment of “What is going on here,” that allows them to seize their moment and take you out.
This is all a long way of saying I got jumped the other night. And it wasn’t at all like I imagined. It wasn’t a perp moving out of a corner I failed to clear or a scuffle that I lost control over. No, it was more like a slow motion car crash, a short period of time that somehow seemed to take an eternity –every second an hour.
See, one moment Castle’s just chatting with a witness that we’re checking in on – the next, it becomes clear that there’s something strange going on here. Or is there? Castle has theories all the time, wild ideas that he spins out gleefully. Yes, sometimes they’re true – but a lot of the time, they’re just exotic notions that he wants to play out for our amusement. So when Castle starts saying that maybe this witness isn’t simply a witness, that he’s in fact the killer? I’m hearing this, but maybe I’m not listening. Not as closely as I should.
And slowly the theory starts to coalesce, what was once wild fiction becomes fact, and it seems clear that yes, this could very well be true. I’m raising my guard, ready to call out the situation. But by then… I’m already down. It’s over.
See, the killer already knew Castle’s theory was true. He didn’t have to wait for the pieces to fit together. He knew they did. So he planned first, he moved first, and he seized that moment from me.And me? I can’t even remember exactly what happened.
I wake up to Esposito and Beckett rushing in, to Castle being tied up, to a red mist over my vision and a pounding soundtrack in my head. To my gun being gone. To my badge being gone. All the things that make me a cop.
Nobody says it’s my fault. Not Beckett. Not Esposito. Not Montgomery. Not even Castle. We were lied to, we were tricked, they say. I would have done the same thing, they say.
Everyone says that except for me. Because I always told myself that it would turn out differently for me. That I wouldn’t be the guy I read about in after action reports, trying to explain how I lost this battle.
That’s how I told it to Jenny, not to Espo or Beckett, just to Jenny, the only person I was okay telling how weak and useless I felt. It was a long night, a difficult night. And in the morning, Jenny said something that made sense. That maybe I lost the battle, but I wouldn’t lose the war. She said that the war is ongoing and starts up every time I walk into the precinct in the morning. That made a lot of sense.
So it’s not going to be easy and it won’t happen overnight. But I’ll get back to where I was; planning, assessing, training. I’ll get to a place where I may lose battles, but I will win the war.