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Seattle, Washington

March, 2016

"Attaboy, Wallace," Turner said, and clapped me on the shoulder.

Clarity is a thing that comes at the strangest and most unbidden of times.

If I could press rewind on my life and turn back the tape to the moment when I first saw myself clearly for who I had become, I think the resulting freeze frame would have featured that moment; Nicholas Turner's meaty palm smacking down on my shoulder as the rest of the room's occupants closed in around us, smiles on their faces.

I was thirty-two years old that spring and just a few months out from thirteen years spent in the Seattle Police Department. Three years out from having made detective. In that moment I was no longer the rookie or the queer or the affirmative action hire. An oversight committee had cleared me of wrongdoing and, in the process, earned me the camaraderie of men who wouldn't have deigned to piss in my direction before it all went down.

It was a testament to my powers of self delusion that doubt hadn't come creeping in earlier. Not in all the hours I'd spent being grilled over my conduct, not even as I'd watched Ada Vavra and her husband be pulled from their ruined car, had I let myself consider the possibility that I had gone too far in the pursuit of the law. It was only as I stood there, receiving a stream of backslapping congratulations that I saw the reality of my actions.

I suppose it's like getting complimented on your shoes by the coworker who always wears patterned ties with pinstripe shirts. It doesn't matter how many times you've been told you're wrong by the people you trust. Sometimes you just can't see it until the people you hate start telling you, you were right.

It was my first day back. I'd come to the precinct that morning to collect my badge and my orders and get back to work after months of administrative leave. Months spent fighting to keep my job. I let myself be congratulated, I kept my mouth shut while Turner and his cronies pumped my hand and slapped my back and when they were done I walked back passed the office where my lieutenant was waiting and out the door.

I had won. I had shown them all.

And I knew that I had been wrong from the start. 

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